Though Helen Gitzel, President of the Airdrie 1st Club is not a gambling woman, she does have a preferred team that she hopes will win in the annual Sirens Charity Hockey game on Saturday, November 26. Gitzel said that she is most definitely rooting for Team Blue - the RCMP's team. Although the hockey game between the city's firefighters (Team Red) and police has fostered some lighthearted rivalry and humorous jibes between the first responders, it is also a chance to donate to the Airdrie 1st Club's Christmas Hamper Program.
"Anything that is donated comes to us so we are looking for gift cards, money cash donations, and board games," Gitzel said. "With the board games, we have two boxes, one is red, and one is blue, so you can pick: are you Team Red or Team Blue?"
Entry to the hockey game which will be in the Ron Ebbesen Arena at 8 p.m. on Saturday is through donations, though, those who can't attend the event can still donate to the Christmas Hamper Program through a variety of ways. Andrew MacPherson, with the Airdrie Professional Firefighters Association, said that goods donations can also be dropped off at any of the city's three fire stations until December 3.
Calgary Flames alumni Chris Herperger, Brent Gogol, Darryl Laplante, and Tony Stile will also be in attendance and although not yet confirmed, Olly Postanin and Jacob Ardown, of On the Bench may also make an appearance.
As with previous years, volunteers from the Airdrie 1st club will be present at the Ron Ebbesen Arena to gather the donations and hand out the 50/50 raffle tickets and while McPherson said it has always been a friendly rivalry between police and firefighters, he was very certain that Airdrie's firefighters would win this year's game as they did last year.
"Fire won last year 12-7, so [this year] I'd say it'd be at least that if not a wider score," MacPherson said, half-jesting.
While it seems the firefighters are very confident in asserting dominance this year as well, the police's side is slightly more reserved. Corporal James McConnell of the Airdrie RCMP said that both RCMP and municipal enforcement members will be lacing up their skates and playing. When asked what he thought of the firefighters' rather presumptuous notion that they would win this year as well, McConnell was quick to answer.
"Our primary focus is to beat the fire department in donations and hopefully, on the scoreboard as well," he said.
Although spectators will be treated to a light-hearted rivalry between the city's first responders on the ice, McConnell said it is also a chance for the community to see their first responders outside of their uniforms.
"I think an event like this allows police and fire[fighters] to show who we are outside of our normal work environment. I think it's an opportunity for us to give back a little bit and give a chance to raise some money for a great cause," he said. "Everyone wins in this situation when we can get some people together and play hockey for a great cause."
Last year's charity game raised close to $10,000 in donations, though MacPherson said he is hoping this year's donations will surpass that. The game is set to start at 8 p.m. at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
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