NHL players lace up to Krush Cancer
Fundraiser game in support of local hockey pro Chris Kushneriuk
If anything good has come out of the ridiculous NHL lockout, it was the outpouring of support Thursday night at the Minto Skating Club on Lancaster Road.
Several NHL players, including former Gatineau Olympiques’ star Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers, Orléans native Erik Gudbranson of the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators Erik Condra and Marc Methot were among the participants at the Krush Cancer charity hockey game in support of local hockey talent Chris Kushneriuk, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last June.
Kushneriuk, who turned 26 on Christmas Eve, played in the Central Junior A Hockey League, with the Robert Morris University Colonials and also professionally in the ECHL with the Bakersfield Condors.
He is currently undergoing treatment in Indianapolis and Thursday’s game was to raise funds to help offset mounting medical bills.
“Things are going very well. He’s really strong mentally and he’s very rooted in his faith, which helps him a lot,” Chris’ girlfriend Christiane Lalonde said prior to the charity game.
“As for how it’s going physically, it’s very hard on him and he’s really tired. He has some side effects, but everything is normal and his doctors keep telling him everything is going as planned. We’re just hoping for the best and taking everything day by day.”
The event was organized by Dan Bittle and Shane Byrne, owners of Apex Sport Management, which is a strength and conditioning consultancy where they work with a lot of high-level hockey players.
Neither man knows Chris personally, but a lot of the athletes they work with know Chris very well, and it was a collective effort that brought the charity game to fruition.
“When we heard about his condition, we knew we had to do something and being around the game we had to do something,” Bittle explained. “Our friends at Minto Skating Club have been very generous donating a couple of hours of ice and we put the word out to our players and it grew organically from there.”
Bittle added the players have been very active on social media promoting the event and the players have been very receptive by retweeting. There was also a silent auction to raise funds and about 600 fans turned out to watch the game.
“I know Chris a little bit and it was good to see everybody come here for a good cause.” Giroux said. “To be able to see a lot of fans here is fun and at the same time we’re having fun. It’s good to see the community get behind this.”
Methot is still looking to play his first game with the Senators, but the Ottawa native was very happy to suit up for Kushneriuk.
“We all heard what happened with Kush and for us it’s a great opportunity to help a member of the hockey community out,” Methot said. “Anything we can do to support him and what he’s going through is huge for us.
Team Methot fell to Team Gudbranson 8-5 in the end, but the real winner was evident.
Donations to the fund can still be made at chriskushneriuk.org.