A team of high-flying ex-Habs will glide into Kelowna next month to square off against a sturdy home squad of hockey heroes, and raise some money for a deserving cause.
The Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour, presented by Canadian Tire, will take over Memorial Arena Feb. 17, giving hockey fans the chance to see some of the game’s biggest legends go stick-to-stick, in a once-in-a-lifetime event.
The event is the biggest to grace Memorial arena in decades, bringing the old barn back to its glory days, and setting the scene for an incredible match.
The game is also a fundraiser for the Central Okanagan Hospice Association, helping the non-profit raise awareness and funds, and continue to support individuals and their families living with life‐limiting illness or grieving the loss of a loved one.
The ex-Habs’ will field a slate of superstars for the match, including big names like Patrice Brisebois, Stephane Richer, Chris Nilan and coach Steve Shutt.
Those greats will lace up against the COHA Knights, which boasts its own cadre of NHL talent, with players like Cory Cross, Quintin Laing, Wade Redden, Brent Gilcrest and Tyler Bouck.
Gilcrest, a Vernon boy who was drafted into the NHL by the Canadiens, says the game will be thrilling for any hockey fan.
“Lots of those Canadiens alumni are my friends, but they aren’t here just playing against a Junior team—they’re going to be up against some real pros,” he says.
“Here’s a Canadiens alumni team that’s quite expecting to win, because they’re the draw. It’s like the Harlem Globetrotters, where they’re supposed to come to town and win, but the COHA Knights are going to have some real surprises for them.”
Although the charity game will be mostly light-hearted, Gilcrest says professional athletes never lose their competitive spirit.
“As friendly as it is, and as much as we want people to come out and have fun, that competitive edge is still always there, so you’re going to see a fantastic game,” he says. “There are some players that still have some incredible skill, and can still really fly.”
Gilcrest says he’s always psyched to hit the ice, but that lacing up for such a worthy cause makes it that much better.
“COHA is a great organization that’s providing an amazing service, at some really tough times of need. A game like this can educate lots of the public that might not be totally familiar with the great work they do,” he said.
The puck drops Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2:00 p.m. The event will also feature a VIP reception, which will give fans the chance to rub shoulders with, and get autographs from the superstars.
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