BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo’s hockey marathoners have overcome injuries, illness, fatigue and countless blisters to unofficially set the record for the longest continuous game.
It happened shortly after 7 a.m. Monday, when the official time clock mounted in the stands overlooking centre ice hit 10 days, 10 hours, 3 minutes and 21 seconds. The time surpassed the previous Guinness World Record mark of 250 hours, 3 minutes and 20 seconds established during an outdoor game outside of Edmonton, Alberta in February 2015.
Fans stood, cheered and hollered, and play was stopped briefly as players hugged on the benches and on the ice. Team Blue was leading Team White 1,723-1,695 in an event dubbed the “11 Day Power Play.”
The game began at 9 p.m. on June 22, when 40 rec-league players — many of them in their 40s — embarked on a round-the-clock bid to break the record and raise $1 million for Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
They topped the monetary goal before the opening faceoff, and had raised $1.179 million through Sunday.
The game is scheduled to go for another hour.
Marathon organizers must now submit the full-length video of the game and the official scoresheet, which tops more than 50 pages, to Guinness for verification.
Team White’s Kenny Corp was leading scorers with 267 goals based on the statistics compiled through midnight.
The event was organized a year ago by Mike Lesakowski, a 45-year-old environmental engineer. He was motivated to raise money for cancer research after his wife, Amy, was successfully treated for breast cancer at Roswell in 2009, and in honour of his mother who died of cancer last year.
The two teams were split into mostly seven-player groupings (five skaters, a goalie and one substitute), which rotated playing four-hour shifts. Play was allowed to stop each hour for 10 minutes while the ice was cleaned.
Many were forced to take additional shifts or expand their ice time to fill in for those who became sidelined by injuries and illness during the 11-day stretch. Rules prevented the teams from adding replacement new players once the game began.
All 40 finished the game, though goalie Ryan Martin missed several days after coming down with strep throat and had to be quarantined so not to infect other players, and Nicholas Fattey broke his nose after being struck by a puck.
The ice-time was donated by the NHL Buffalo Sabres-owned two-rink HarborCenter hockey and entertainment complex. Numerous restaurants chipped in by donating meals. A group of athletic trainers and therapists were also on hand 24-hours a day to treat injuries, tape up blisters and provide massages.
The players also didn’t leave the facility, and crammed into four rooms that were turned into makeshift sleeping quarters.
As mentally and physically grueling as the game was, Lesakowski was already considering the possibility of holding another marathon to set another record.
“We’ve raised over $1 million, right? And that’s a pretty powerful thing to do,” Lesakowski said on Thursday. “The guys in Canada did it several times and they’ve raised a lot of money for similar good causes. So definitely not going to say never.”