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New year, old-timers, same story

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canuck Alumni have begun the New Year the same way ended the old one: with another on-ice victory.

Kicking off 2015 with a trip to South Langley and a game against the Pacific Junior Hockey League's Langley Knights, the skilled veterans fashioned an 11-5 victory, led by Cliff Ronning's hat-trick. It started out as a close affair, with the teams tied at three apiece after the opening period. But, with Knights President/Head Coach/General Manager John Craighead "on loan" to the Alumni for the evening, the visitors soon opened up a three-goal lead and never looked back. Craighead, who played with the Canucks' Manitoba Moose AHL farm team in 2002-03, had a strong outing alongside his Alumni buddies, scoring a pair of goals and collecting an assist. Smooth-skating forward Denis Pederson scored once and set up three others while veteran D-man Jyrki Lumme contributed a goal and assisted on two more.

During the course of first-period events, Knights captain Levi De Waal unwittingly became the latest addition to the exclusive fraternity of 'Honorary Canuck Alumni' when he scored the first goal for the host squad. He was promptly rewarded at centre ice with an NHL Alumni Association jersey ... and a pie in the face.

The event - attended by a crowd of more than 650 at Langley's George Preston Arena - was Craighead's brain-child, designed as a fund-raiser for the Surrey-based "Sophie's Place" Child Advocacy Centre for abused children, operated by The Child Development Foundation. Charitable returns on the day-long endeavour were boosted by strong 50-50 sales, some brisk bidding on a table filled with silent auction items and a spirited post-dinner live auction that featured a limited-edition 2014 NHL Heritage Classic stick signed by Kevin Bieksa; an autographed Bernie Parent Philadelphia Flyers goaltender's mask; and an NHL Alumni Association jersey signed and authenticated by no fewer than 52 stars from the game's bygone era.

With the holiday season now behind them - and that first win of 2015 under their belts - the Canuck Alumni now turn their attention to their next outing: a scheduled role in the celebration of "Hockey Day in Canada," set for Valentine's Day, February 14th.

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