Hockey he­roes hit Brockville

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - TIM RUHNKE

There was plenty of yel­low and black with just a hint of blue in down­town B rockville on Sun­day night.

Hockey Hall of Famers Ray B our que and Joe Mullen were joined by former NHLers Al Iafrate, David Shaw, An­drew Ray­croft and Bob Sweeney at a meet-and-greet event held at the Keystorm Pub. The event was a fundraiser for the Brockville Win­ter Clas­sic.

The guests signed jer­seys, books and cards, and shared sto­ries from their days on and off the ice. All six played at some point in their pro ca­reers for the Bos­ton Bru­ins.

Mullen, to whom em­cee John Hor­ri­gan re­ferred as ar­guably the best Amer­i­can to play the game, racked up 562 goals in his ca­reer and won a Stan­ley Cup with Cal­gary and two with Pitts­burgh. A New Yorker whose dad worked at Madi­son Square Gar­den, Mullen re­called be­ing shocked to learn that he had been traded by St. Louis to Cal­gary in 1986. How­ever, he added it was the best thing that could have hap­pened to his ca­reer.

“They wel­comed me so nicely ,” said Mullen, who noted that reg­u­lar peo­ple greeted him im­me­di­ately upon his ar­rival in Cal­gary and told him it’ s good to have him with the Flames.

Mullen fol­lowed up his suc­cess in Cal­gary by suit­ing up with ‘Mario and the boys’ in Pitts­burgh, when the Pen­guins had a list filled with great play­ers. When asked if he keeps in touch with those former team­mates, Mullen in­di­cated some do and some don’t. “Once you see each other, you just pick up where you left off,” he told the Keystorm gath­er­ing.

Bourque re­ceived the most at­ten­tion­from fans at the B rockville event. The long­time B ru­ins all-star de­fence man and five-time Nor­ris Tro­phy re­cip­i­ent capped his NHL ca­reer by win­ning the Cup with Colorado in 2001.

Ia fr ate, who started his NHL ca­reer with Toronto and had the record for the hard­est slap shot for many years, was also a pop­u­lar guest at the event on Sun­day.

Belleville na­tive Ray­croft was in net for the Maple Leafs for 72 games in 2006-2007, the year in which the team just missed mak­ing the play­offs when the Is­lan­ders won a shootout in New Jer­sey on the last day of the reg­u­lar sea­son. Ray­croft said it was a “great thrill” be­ing from Belleville to goto Toronto, adding he got a lot of ticket re­quests every night.

The B ru­ins alumni crew vis­ited the Youth Arena prior to the Keystorm event.

First held in 2015, this year’s edi­tionof the Win­ter Clas­sic is set to run for more than a week in mid-Fe­bru­ary and will fea­ture a game be­tween the Chicago Black­hawks Alumni and the Tim Hor­tons All-Stars at the Brockville Me­mo­rial Cen­tre on Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 17.

It was an­nounced on Sun­day that Hall-of-Famer and former Chicago cap­tain De­nis Savard is slated to ap­pear in Brockville that week­end.

The Bos­ton Bru­ins Alumni took part in the 2017 Win­ter Clas­sic. The Mon­treal Cana­di­ens and New York Rangers were the other two orig­i­nal six teams fea­tured at the an­nual Brockville hockey cel­e­bra­tion.

Win­ter Clas­sic pro­ceeds con­tinue to sup­port the Ro­tary Park project. Clas­sic or­ga­niz­ers also spear­headed the lo­cal Kraft Hock­eyville bid in 2016 that made it to the top 10 of the na­tional pro­mo­tion and won $25,000 for the Brockville fa­cil­ity.

For more in­for­ma­tion about what’ s planned for 2019, visit www.brockvillewin­ter­clas­sic.com.

A mo­ment of si­lence was ob­served at the meet-and-greet on Sun­day for the fam­ily of Keystorm owner Dan Thomp­son, whose fa­ther Ron died re­cently.

TIM RUHNKE/SPE­CIAL TO THE RECORDER AND TIMES

Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque (left) chats with Lawrence Fox at a mee­tand-greet event held at the Keystorm Pub on Sun­day. Six former NHL play­ers ap­peared at the gath­er­ing held in sup­port of the Brockville Win­ter Clas­sic.

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