Twenty teams of firefighters and police officers from Michigan, Ontario and Ohio will converge on the for two days worth of hockey games to raise money for charity.
The 12th annual Charities Hockey Tournament is set for Wednesday and Thursday. Games begin at 9 a.m. both days and continue until 3 p.m. on all three ice arenas at the recreation center, located at 3101 West Road.
Two Downriver teams of firefighters–known as Downriver Heat–will be among the 20 teams. They will represent fire departments in Trenton, Wyandotte, Ecorse, Southgate and Melvindale.
Other Michigan teams include Canton fire, Dearborn fire, Dearborn police, Dearborn Heights fire, Detroit fire, Northville Township fire, St. Clair Shores fire, Southgate fire and Summit fire.
Eight Canadian teams will be part of the tournament. There will be two teams each from Windsor, London and Essex, plus individual teams from Chatham and Lambton County. In some cases, the teams will represent the Ontario Provincial Police.
Rounding out the tournament will be a team of Toledo police officers and firefighters.
All games are open to the public with no admission charge. A complete schedule will be available at the arenas. The Downriver teams compete on Wednesday at 9:20 and 9:40 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. and then again on Thursday at 9:40 a.m. and 12:20 p.m.
Each game includes two 15-minute periods. Each team competes in one of five divisions, playing three other teams in round-robin style games. On Thursday afternoon, the top two teams in each division will play for five championship trophies.
“This is a big tournament,” said Josh Hodge, a fire engineer with the Trenton Fire Department. “Throughout the two days, there will be 35 games of hockey. Some of the teams are really good and some are out to have a good time.”
Hodge, who helps organize the tournament, said the real winners would be the charities that receive donations from Trenton firefighters throughout the year. This year’s funds will come from the team entry fees, donations, T-shirt sales and raffle proceeds.
The charities are wide ranging and include the Karmanos Cancer Institute, the University of Michigan Burn Center and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The firefighters also donate to send a burn victim to a summer camp operated by the Burn Center and a $1,000 scholarship to a Trenton High School graduating senior interested in pursuing a career in firefighting or emergency medical services. They sponsor the Trenton Parks and Recreation special needs assistance program and sponsor a couple of families through the Trenton Goodfellows.
Last fall, firefighters also donated $2,000 to help students from Boyd Arthurs Middle School afford a trip to Washington, DC.
“We’ve got some national charities, but we really take pride in donating to local charities,” Hodge said. “As an organization, we take a lot of pride in giving back to the community.”
Speaking of pride, there will be plenty of pride on the line during the games, perhaps more so when firefighters and police officers go head to head.
“This is a big hockey area,” Hodge said. “I think firefighters and police officers are naturally competitive people. A lot of them played sports growing up and this is a good way to carry that on. It should be interesting.”
Hodge said the Trenton firefighters’ hockey involvement goes back 15 years. Hodge and current Chief Bruce Vick started the Trenton charities event 12 years ago.
The Downriver firefighters also go on the road to play in fire department-sponsored hockey tournaments in London, Dearborn, Detroit and Windsor and used to play in Columbus, Ohio.
“We’re there to have fun with the guys,” Hodge said. “At the end of the day, everybody can go have a beer together and enjoy the time they’ve had.”
He encouraged young people to attend the games since they’re on Easter break from school this week.
The hockey tournament is one of two fund-raising events promoted by the Trenton Fire Department. The annual Andy Ross Charity Motorcycle Ride is scheduled for June 18 starting and finishing at Elizabeth Park. Registration is under way for the ride, which is open to the public. To sign up, visit www.AndyRossRun.org.