Picture this: eleven former NHL players boasting nearly 9,000 games of experience with eight Stanley Cup rings amongst them, descending on the little Wyoming cowboy town of Jackson Hole to play a benefit game in a tiny rink 6,200 feet above sea level! Explain please…
It all began 10 years ago when the All-Star Hockey Group, a local Vancouver fundraising team, hooked up with former Hollywood actress and singer Connie Stevens, who was looking to raise money for her favorite charity, CES, an initiative which assisted in getting handicapped people back into the work force. Ms. Stevens just happened to have vacation home in Jackson Hole, which is located in the upper northwest corner of Wyoming, not far from Yellowstone National Park.
Plans came together to play a fundraising hockey game involving former NHL players augmented by professional musicians and TV/movie stars against a group of senior players from the local team, the Jackson Hole Moose. Gala dinners were added which, over the years, included “special friends” of Connie Stevens, such as Loni Anderson, Valerie Harper, Penny Marshall, Bill Medley and Alan Thicke, just to name a few.
In recent years, the Stevens charity went in a different direction but the hockey group persevered with its annual fundraising extravaganza, now benefiting the Teton Free Clinic, a medical facility whose name explains itself.
Fast forward to early March, 2008. It was GAME ON for a 10th straight year. This edition of the visiting team included four ex-Canucks: Greg Adams, Kirk McLean, Igor Larionov and Jamie Huscroft. It also included two other currently active members of the Canucks Alumni, Bill Ranford and Gary Nylund. The other NHLers were Neal Broten, Bernie Nicholls, Reed Larson, Benoit Hogue and Tom Chorske. Rounding out the lineup were Dave Coulier (star of the hit TV series Full House), Dan Moriarty (host of Cool Shots on the NHL Network), ex-pro goalie Marty Wakelyn, Ralph Susca (VP Sales, American Airlines, a major sponsor), plus two local fantasy players.
The Moose, whose oldest player was younger than any of the ex-NHLers, threw five forward lines at their venerable visitors and quickly jumped to a 4-1 lead. Experience prevailed, however, and, when the smoke cleared, Team NHL had squeaked by the locals 12-11, thanks in no small part to a six-goal performance by Greg Adams and as many assists from the artful Igor Larionov.
The following evening, the gala dinner was staged and everyone was entertained by a group of incredibly talented Nashville musicians, while a wide assortment of auction items raised over $35,000 for the Teton Free Clinic.
The game was won by the “good guys”, and significant charitable funds were raised.
The 10th annual Jackson Hole On-Ice weekend had unfolded as it should!