While many sporting events have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a charity hockey game carried on Saturday night in central Alberta.
The fourth annual game between Penhold firefighters and correctional officers from Bowden Institution was played at the Penhold Multiplex, in support of the Red Deer Food Bank.
A few dozen people watched the matchup from the stands – there was no entry fee, but food donations were collected at the door.
“Last year we got over 200 pounds for the food bank. We were hoping to beat that this year, but with everything that’s happening, you don’t know,” said Fire Chief Jim Pendergast.
Pendergast said the event would have been restricted if too many people showed up – earlier this week the provincial government asked all event organizers to cancel if they were going to have more than 250 attendees.
“We’re volunteer firefighters and we just love doing things for charity, as do the corrections officers,” he said.
“We did an assessment on Thursday and Friday, to determine whether we can continue with the game or not. One of our first thoughts was the protection of public safety, so we made sure we followed all the guidelines laid out by the provincial government.
“Then we thought we really wanted to do this because there was a much greater need for the food bank than there is normally,” said Pendergast.
The charity hockey game has raised money for different causes in the past, Pendergast said, adding the game is always a blast for the players.
“We might have to bring in ringers because we usually get our rear-ends kicked pretty good by the correctional officers,” he joked.
Marty Richard, Bowden Institution correctional officer, said the game brings both teams together.
“We get to know each other on the ice. We get along, we have some laughs,” he said.
“It’s nice to be able to get the firefighters and our group of guys together for this game for the community of Penhold and to support different organizations in the Red Deer area.”
Richard said he was a little worried the game might be cancelled.
“I was wondering if it was going to get cancelled or not. But in the past I don’t think we hit the 250 mark (for attendance). I was hoping we stayed under that this year too so we can play on,” he said.