This is year nine of the Battle of the Badges in Hope — and with four wins each for the RCMP and the firefighters, someone is going to gain the upper hand this Saturday at 3:15 p.m.
The annual hockey games raises money for the Cops for Cancer fund, which works in conjunction with the Canadian Cancer Society. The game is held in memory of Tyler Wells, a Hope teen who died of cancer in 2007.
Const. Francois Lewis of the Boston Bar detachment seemed confident on Monday that the guys with the guns will come back and extinguish the hose-handlers, after two closely-contested losses.
“We tried to pick officers who are fit,” said Lewis. “The firemen have beaten us the last two years, so we need an edge. From what we’ve seen, their gym memberships must have run out — or the Rolling Pin bakery had a sale on fritters.
“Our team is made up of local Hope RCMP members, as well as members from neighbouring detachments and support units,” said Lewis, who worked in Hope for five and half years before moving to Boston Bar. His lineage in the sport dates back to Chilliwack Minor Hockey and pond hockey back in Montreal.
“All of our players are police officers, mostly RCMP, with two coming from the Abbotsford Police Department, who have played in past years.”
George Johnston, a volunteer with the Hope fire department, brushed off Lewis’s comment about his team’s fitness.
“We in the fire department are superbly conditioned athletes. We’re usually outnumbered by the RCMP, so we have to stay in prime physical condition.”
Most of the firefighters will be local members, including one from the Sunshine Valley fire department. A fire chief from West Vancouver will be in the net and Aaron Saito, a Hope Secondary grad of 1989, is coming back home to play — and bringing three fellow Richmond firefighters with him.
“I’m bringing two ex-juniors,” said Saito. “One guy is named Scott Dineen. His uncle is Kevin Dineen (who played in the NHL for almost two decades.) The other guy is Shane Bennett, who played with Coquitlam. Then there’s myself and Aaron VanIpren… we’re both plumbers.
“And you can tell those police officers we eat lots of bacon,” added Saito, jabbing back at Lewis.
Yahna Neufeld (Bergen) will be singing the national anthem and Tyler Wells’ grandmother, Roberta, will drop the ceremonial puck before the game, which includes three periods of 20-minute stop time. Raffles and 50/50 draws will be held during the intermissions, said Johnston.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students — or $20 for a family of four. No charge for children five years old or younger. Tickets are available at the RCMP station, 6th Avenue Sports, Lordco, Romano’s and from the players. They are also available at the arena on game day.
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In other hockey news, Hope’s bantam C-1 Wildcats won their third tournament of the year. The high-flying squad traveled to Kamloops last weekend for the 12-team Bantam Ice Battle tournament at the MacArthur Island sports complex.
They were second after the round robin, with two wins and a tie, and then had convincing wins in the semi-final and final, to bring home their third trophy this year.
Monday night, the Wildcats pulled into top spot in the playoffs with a win over Chilliwack.