Red Wings coming to Dobson, Eagle
The Red Wings are coming.
OK. So, this is not exactly news. For the last 13 years, the Detroit Red Wings Alumni have hit the ice at Dobson Arena to take on the Vail Mountaineers for charity.
But this year, in addition to Friday’s traditional stop at Dobson, the Wings and Mountaineers are taking it west for a game Saturday at the new Eagle Ice Arena. The puck for both games drops at 7:30 p.m.
“This is the 14th year I’ve been involved with this series, I’ve never seen a community so absolutely behind an event like this,” said Andy Clark who is organizing this year’s games with Glen Heelan. “The (Eagle) Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a beer garden. The fireman are putting up signs. It’s like Mayberry R.F.D. We have close to 150 kids involved.”
Whether it’s at Dobson or down in Eagle, this year’s two-game series figures to be a competitive and fun one. The Wings are bringing out some familiar faces like Dennis Hextall, John O’Grodnick, Bill Evo, Tony McKegney, goalie Tim Chevaldae and Avalanche alum Craig Wolanin.
“When’s Steve Yzerman going to retire? Maybe next year,” Clark joked.
Stevie Y or not, the Red Wings are a formidable bunch. They swept last year’s games and lead the all-time series, 14-9-3.
“Last year was tough,” said Clark, who also plays for the Mountaineers. “We had one good game and lost, 3-2, and then we got drilled Saturday. This year, we need to win one game. Last year sent me to the bar.”
Speaking of which, while the competition on the ice is fierce, this isn’t totally a business trip for Detroit. The Red Wings spend their weekend, signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans.
“They come out to ski and have a good time,” Heelan said. “This is the highlight of their season. They ski and play games for charity.”
As for the games, the Mountaineers do mean business. Coached by Eric Nesterenko, Vail has the all-Minnesota line of Clark, Dick Hoene and Mike Gish, all of who have college hockey experience. Then there’s the Thurston line of Glen, Scott and Kevin. And, don’t forget the young guys – Chad Warren, Matt Merritt and Matt Blake.
“I wish I was 22,” quipped Clark.
Whatever happens on the ice, the big winners will be the Family Learning Center in Edwards and the Eagle Valley Skating club, which covers the downvalley’s burgeoning hockey and figure-skating clubs.
“The Family Learning Center provides childcare and early learning programs for 175 children from ages 6 weeks to 6 years,” said Cherie Paller, the director of the foundation for the Family Learning Center. “One-third of those children are on need-based scholarships and this helps raise funds for that. We’re thrilled that the Red Wings are here and their ongoing support is very much appreciated.”
Tickets for the event cost $10 for adults, $5 for children and $20 for a family pass. For ticket information, call Dobson Arena at (970) 476-2271 or the Eagle Ice Arena at (970) 328-5277.