When you are raising money to fight pediatric cancer, everyone wins. However, when a hockey game is involved, one team is the winner and the other is the 'non-winner.' At the 2006 Hats For Heroes Celebrity Hockey Challenge presented by Pepsi, Team Mountain Dew was victorious, skating away with an 11-10 shoot-out win over Team Pepsi at Nationwide Arena on Sunday night.
Team Mountain Dew and Team Pepsi were comprised of a host of current and former Blue Jackets, whom played alongside other NHL stars and members of several local police and fire departments all in the name of charity raising over $70,000. Proceeds benefited the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation's signature program, Hats For Heroes, which supports local pediatric cancer programs.
Police officer Joe Townsend's sudden-death goal in the seventh round of the shoot-out allowed Team Mountain Dew to hold on despite nearly blowing a three-goal lead in the last five minutes of the game.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Dan Fritsche scored two goals, teaming with police officer Blake Griffith and Skelleftea center Brett Harkins, whom each also scored two goals, to lead Team Mountain Dew.
Dallas Stars center Eric Lindros, former Blue Jackets right wing and current Portland Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen and Portland center J.B. Bittner all tallied two goals apiece to lead Team Pepsi, which trailed by three goals with less than five minutes remaining.
"We are only down a field goal," Team Pepsi head coach and former NFL linebacker Chris Spielman said, before being informed that there aren't any field goals in hockey.
"How about a three-pointer?"
Whatever Spielman said to his squad, it certainly registered. Lindros scored two goals in a 34-second span in the final period and Dineen tied it with 1:44 remaining, setting up the shootout.
In the shootout, Harkins and Randy Southard converted to give Mountain Dew a 2-1 lead, but Lindros converted on his attempt and Tim Elmer also scored to give Team Pepsi a 3-2 advantage. Fritsche then scored for Team Mountain Dew to force Sudden Death. After former Blue Jacket forward Tyler Wright and Blue Jacket head coach Gerard Gallant exchanged missed shots, Townsend converted to give Team Mountain Dew the win.
Former Blue Jackets center Andrew Cassels opened the scoring 15 seconds into the first period to give Team Pepsi a 1-0 lead. Team Mountain Dew then scored five-straight goals (tallied by fire fighter John Shaw, CBJ LW Jody Shelley, Fritsche, CBJ LW Rick Nash and Griffith) to end the first period with a 5-1 lead.
During the first intermission, Team Pepsi decided to play the period without Spielman leading the team and out-scored Team Mountain Dew, 4-3 for the period, setting up an exciting finish to the game.
"We made an executive decision to move on without Spielman," Wright said. "Maybe he should just pay the 15 bucks and go sit in the seats."
Spielman returned to the Team Pepsi bench for the final period, however, but was unable to pull out the victory. Team Mountain Dew was coached by Columbus Crew goalkeeper, Jon Busch. All of the players involved signed autographs for fans after the game.
During breaks in the on-ice action, fans were introduced to several young "heroes," kids who are currently battling cancer or those who have overcome, through a series of in-game features. In addition, a number of local police officers and firefighters have stepped up to support the cause by assisting with various volunteer duties and in-game activities. A silent auction, raffle and post-game autograph session rounded out the festivities, with all proceeds benefiting the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation's signature program, Hats For Heroes.
"It’s a reflection of the community here that Tyler and I are still involved," former Blue Jacket Luke Richardson told the Columbus Dispatch. "Tyler might make this his home base. And this is the one place my wife and I could definitely live because it feels like home. This is a great event, and I’d do anything I can to help."
The mission of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation is to utilize the unique resources of its professional athletes, players and coaches to improve the quality of life throughout the community. The Foundation dedicates time, resources, and financial support to organizations committed to meeting the educational, cultural, health and wellness needs of its citizens. A primary focus of the Foundation is its Stick with Kids initiative in which a strong emphasis is placed on its main pillars: the fight against pediatric cancer; the health and safety of today's youth; education, and the development of youth hockey. Since its inception in March 2000, the Foundation has awarded more than $975,000 in grants in support of local non-profit organizations that serve the Foundation's pillars of giving.