Niagara Gazette


March 22, 2013

Annual police, firefighter charity hockey game taking ice Saturday

Annual charity hockey game takes the ice Saturday

Niagara Gazette — March madness is returning to the Falls on Saturday night.

No, not NCAA basketball March Madness, though Falls cops say they’d like to have a “shinning moment.” This madness is the annual Falls Police versus Falls Firefighters Charity Hockey game.

Except for a shinning moment two years ago, it’s a game that city firefighters have tended to dominate. 

“I’m not going to talk smack,” Firefighter Chris Finitz, a fire team member said this week. “I remember our collapse two years ago.”

In 2011, the firefighters’ team was up by two goals with just two minutes left to play. But the police team rallied to tie the game and, with just seven seconds left in regulation, a “wrister” from Officer Brendan Gee found the net and won the game for the city cops.

A year later, the game returned to form with a firefighter victory. Finitz credits the firefighters’ dominance to the team’s experience.

“Some of the guys on our team have been skating together longer than I’ve been a fireman,” the nine year veteran of the department said. “It’s something we love to do. Every Thursday we put on our skates and play (at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion).”

This year though, the police team may have an opening. Finitz confirmed his team’s top two goaltenders are out, along with star forwards John Donaldson and Tamara Stewart. 

“But you know, we have a waiting list of guys looking for ice time,” Finitz said. “So they’ll get a chance to step up.”

Finitz said he’s had a chance to skate with the police team at one of their practices and said, “Their team looks pretty good.”

Police team members Officer Paul Kudela and Tom Arist have also skated with their firefighter counterparts and admit they face a tough challenge on Saturday night. 

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