Pros put on a show for East Ridge hockey programsThe “old-timers” showed they’ve still got a little left in the tank as the East Ridge High School boys and girls hockey programs held an NHL alumni game and fundraiser on Friday, Dec. 30, at Bielenberg Sports Center in Woodbury.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
The “old-timers” showed they’ve still got a little left in the tank as the East Ridge High School boys and girls hockey programs held an NHL alumni game and fundraiser on Friday, Dec. 30, at Bielenberg Sports Center in Woodbury.
In the game, played in front of a full house at Bielenberg, members of the Minnesota NHL Alumni Association played against a seasoned team of local players, with intermission entertainment provided by the Woodbury Figure Skating Club and area hockey club mite teams.
Players and special guests made themselves available for autographs and photos throughout the event, and afterward. In addition, the event included a silent auction, special concessions, and a ticket-stub raffle for the game jerseys and other prizes.
Money raised benefited the East Ridge hockey programs.
“I think it went down great,” East Ridge head girls hockey team coach Craig Norwich said. “First of all there were no injuries, except for the usual aches and pains the next day. Also, we raised a lot of money for the kids’ program. All in all it was a total success.”
Norwich played 15 seasons of professional hockey in the NHL and Europe. For the game, Norwich laced up his skates along with East Ridge assistant coach Tom Younghans, who played 429 games for the New York Rangers and Minnesota North Stars between 1976 and 1982.
In addition to Norwich and Younghans, headlining the event were Woodbury’s own Wes Walz and Brad Bombardir, who each recently played for the Minnesota Wild. Also appearing at this special were Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo and Wild TV Analyst Mike Greenlay.
Both Walz and Yeo’s daughters play for the East Ridge girls varsity team. Also, Walz was an assistant coach for the Raptors boys team last year and Walz’s son graduated from East Ridge last spring.
Other notable NHL alumnus including Phil Housley, Brad Maxwell, Dave Richter, Gordie Roberts, Reed Larson, Erick Rasmussen, Jeff Teal, Sean Toomey and Joe Dziedzic. Coaching the NHL alumni team was Steve Payne, with goalie Scott Anderson and officials Ron Foyt and Roger Gilbertson.
“It’s always fun playing with those guys,” Norwich said. “I hadn’t played against some of the new guys. It’s always fun to see how bad I am compared to the guys who are just coming out of the game. There was a pretty good pace out there and it was tough to hide. I got a workout that’s for sure.”
The Minnesota NHL Alumni Association is made up of former NHL players who have played for the NHL in Minnesota and/or former NHL players who are from the “state of hockey” that have returned to reside in Minnesota. In addition to taking care of their fellow alumni, they work with groups to support a variety of meaningful community events and charitable causes.
In the game the NHL Alumni Association team fell 8-7.
“It was a close game,” Norwich said. “It looked pretty bad for a while for my team. Fortunately our astute coach Steve Payne made some adjustments and we got back in the game. It was good for the kids to see these smart, skilled players take the ice.”
See additional photos in the Jan. 4 issue of the Bulletin