High school rivals battle for charity
When Michigan Interscholastic League and Catholic High School League rivals Catholic Central and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep meet in battle, it’s not unusual to see a full house of fans show up with the big following these two schools have.
So when they meet 8 p.m. Friday Dec. 1 at USA Arena and 7:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 2 at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, packed houses will take on an even bigger significance with the schools agreeing to turn over the entire gate receipts to the charity Hockey has Heart.
“This is such a generous offer from two prestigious academic institutions with a long history of great athletic programs to donate the gate receipts to our Hockey has Heart general fund,” said HHH President Lucy Oakleaf. “And after they agreed, other schools jumped on board to host similar contests, following their lead and all these games will help us to carry out the good work we do.”
Since HHH’s inception in 2003, it has assisted over 70 hockey families in the State of Michigan facing life altering challenges and distributing over $2 Million in funds. And what is particularly unique about Hockey has Heart is the fact that 100 percent of the funds raised goes towards helping the families. The group is made up entirely of volunteers.
“Without continued support of the Michigan Hockey Community it is very difficult to maintain our level of service,” said Oakleaf. “We have decided to focus our time and efforts during the High School hockey season to continuing our mission and spreading the word about our charity.
“While you sometimes wonder about the world we are living in, I truly believe that most people have a huge heart and want to help others.”
The schools will be raising funds through gate sales, silent auctions and other creative ways for the students to raise money. All of the proceeds will be given to Hockey has Heart to assist hockey families in times of devastating life challenges in the future.
The idea grew from a game played last season between the Walled Lake Wild and the Plymouth Canton Salem High School Girls teams, who wanted to hold a pre-season game and pick a charity to donate the proceeds to.
HHH’s efforts are well known at both CC and OLSM. After Shamrocks’ former player Matt Sorisho and Eaglets’ former player Shane Dwyer both suffered paralyzing injuries, the charity stepped up and presented each with checks and helped with fundraisers for the two young men to face the financial challenges ahead.
The program for the hockey game fundraisers is called the Hockey has Heart Charity Face-Off and prior to this weekend’s OLSM-CC tilts, two Charity Face-Offs have already been held.
On Nov. 11, at the Arctic Edge in Canton, four Girls High Schools matched up and the Michigan State University Women’s Club team played the Michigan Selects Women’s team, comprised of coaches from the Michigan Metro Girls High School Hockey League.
PCS hosted the event and played against Walled Lake again. The Cranbrook Kingswood Cranes played the Ann Arbor Pioneers in other prep contest.
"Hockey Has Heart has helped a number of families that are near and dear to us and we wanted to offer our support to a great cause," said PCS Head Coach Jenna Donnelly, "This is the second year we have done this event and we grew it from two to six teams in an effort to raise more money and get more teams involved."
And Ann Arbor coach Sandy Hurd also praised the idea of the games this year.
"We were absolutely thrilled to be a part of this event. Hockey Has Heart has always had a special place in the history of the Ann Arbor organization with the Bourne family," said Hurd. "Our players were super excited to play and enjoyed the friendly competition from Cranbrook."
Donnelly was also thrilled at the abundance of participation from all teams, players, parents and former coaches from the league.
"Each team donated raffle baskets which helped in raising more money for the event. Also, former coaches from the league came back to play on the Women's Selects Team against Michigan State," Donnelly continued, "I think all of the participating teams had a wonderful time knowing that they were helping hockey families in need."
This was the first chance of the 2017 season for all four girls’ teams to play.
"This was a great opportunity for our girls to get to know one another on and off the ice," said Cranbrook Head Coach Alexis Bohlinger "Also, knowing that they were playing hockey for someone other than themselves gave them a whole new outlook to how impactful sports can be."
Hurd extended his gratitude to PCS for inviting them to participate. "PCS did a wonderful job of hosting the event. Our girls thoroughly enjoyed watching the league coaches compete against the MSU team in the final game of the night."
The final scores of the games were Cranbrook 6, Ann Arbor Pioneer 5; Plymouth Canton Salem 7, Walled Lake Wild 3, and Michigan Selects 7, Michigan State 6.
"At the end of the day, the scores did not matter even though the games were competitive," said Donnelly, " All of the teams were very good sports and had fun for a great cause. The Hockey Has Heart Board of Directors look forward to more Charity Face-Off events throughout Michigan in the upcoming year."
With over $2,500 from the gate receipts and basket raffles, the amount for the night was pushed past the $3,500 mark thanks to additional donation from Arctic Edge Arena of $1,000.
On Nov. 17 and 18, the next four Boys High Schools played in a HHH Charity Face-Off at Farmington Hills Ice Arena with the Farmington Flyers and Farmington United teams as hosts to Livonia Churchill and Livonia Franklin High Schools. Nearly $5,000 was raised in the two-day event dubbed “The Baseline Battle.” Churchill came away with two wins, Franklin and Farmington went 1-1 and United dropped a pair of games.
Now is the time for St. Mary’s and Catholic Central fans to step up to the plate the next two nights.
For those interested in attending the USA Arena is in Plymouth and St. Mary’s Athletic complex is in Orchard Lake.
Two other MIHL rivals are going to hold a Charity Face-Off, Brother Rice and Cranbrook. The gates from the Dec. 20 game at Oak Park Arena and the Feb. 16 game at Cranbrook’s Wallace Arena will also go to HHH.
Oakleaf said the charity is grateful to D & D Bike & Hockey for their special donation of commemorative jerseys for each Face-Off game. D & D can be contacted at ddbicyclesandhockey.com.
To learn more about Hockey has Heart, or to make a donation anytime, go to the charity’s website: www.hockeyhasheart.org.