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Lightning alumni earn win over Bruins at Hockey Day

The special alumni game highlights a full day of events at AMALIE Arena.

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Less than three minutes remained in the alumni game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins and the Bolts' Andre Roy still hadn't scored, if not for a lack of trying.

The fan favorite forward scored 17 goals during his career with the Lightning. But he wanted one more on the AMALIE Arena ice. He was determined not to leave the alumni game without getting on the scoresheet.

A receptive crowd prodded him on.

Finally, Roy's moment came. With the Lightning leading 16-12, Roy saw a sliver of an opening in the Bruins' net and shot for it, the goal horn sounding, the crowd erupting.

Roy threw his hands and stick over his head in triumphant celebration, soaking in the adoration from the fans. When he got to the bench, he chucked his helmet like a bowling ball down the locker room tunnel.

Phil Esposito, the Lightning alumni coach, missed the moment, however.

He was taking a phone call on the bench.

When the Bolts alums come together, you never know what you're going to witness.

The Lightning alumni downed the Bruins alumni 18-14 Saturday night at AMALIE Arena, the Bolts outscoring the Bruins 13-11 after starting the game with a 5-3 advantage thanks to their performance in a skills competition a few minutes prior to the game. Vinny Lecavalier, who retired from the NHL during this past offseason, netted three goals to lead the way for the Lightning. Dmitry Afanasenkov, Vinny Prospal and Nikita Alexeev each netted a pair of goals in the victory over the Bruins, whose roster featured Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, Terry O'Reilly and Al Iafrate among others.

After the game, players from both teams sat in the Lightning locker room as one group sharing war stories from the game and taking pictures with one another.

"It's not about winning or losing," former Lightning forward Ruslan Fedotenko said. "It's a great cause, and I think everybody had fun. The fans have a great time too seeing all the old teams coming back and all the players. So I think it was great for everybody."

The Lightning-Bruins alumni game was part of a full day of action during Hockey Day in Tampa Bay at the arena. Proceeds from the event were split between the Lightning sled hockey team and the Jason Ritchie Foundation, which was founded in 2009 by Donna Ritchie to honor her son who was killed in a car accident to benefit talented and driven student athletes.

The Ritchie Foundation was the driving force behind setting up the game between the Bolts and the Bruins. Colonel Mark Rosengard, who played goalie for part of the game, serves on the board of the Ritchie Foundation and is an assistant coach for Newsome High School while also working with the Lightning's Guide the Thunder program. Rosengard approached Lightning community hockey manager Tom Garavaglia about holding an alumni game, setting the wheels in motion for Saturday's battle.

"They're the main reason this all went down," said Lightning vice president of corporate and community affairs Dave Andreychuk and the elder statesman among the current crop of Bolts alums. "I think after you get a team to come in, it's pretty easy after that. We got the right time, the right date, the ice worked for us. So, everything fell in place for us."

The Lightning alumni wore down their counterparts from Boston thanks to a decided age advantage. The Bruins, however, play 30 to 40 games a year. The Bolts just started practicing a couple weeks before the game.

"You know what, again, I've said this all weekend, the game is just minor compared to this stuff in the rooms or being on the bench and just being around the guys in the end," Andreychuk said. "We had fun."

In other action from Hockey Day in Tampa Bay, Mitchell won its second-straight Lightning High School Hockey League championship with a 7-4 victory over Wiregrass Ranch. A spirited sled hockey game featuring Lightning alumni ended in a tie. And 40 teams competed in an all-day street hockey tournament on Ford Thunder Alley despite showers that blew through the area midway into the competition. 

"It's tremendous to see what it is we do in the community on a daily basis, like the street hockey, to have 40 teams out there playing today and to see the success of the teams that participate in leagues we help form and that we help in some way administer, that's really gratifying," Lightning executive director of community hockey development Jay Feaster said. "And from the standpoint of the work, it's the staff. We have an incredible staff. Nobody works harder than Tom (Garavaglia), and certainly Josh (Dreith) and Kristen (Bowness) are the same way. They're just constantly going. And we're fortunate that we have a great part-time staff as well. You think about today. It's raining, and we have to make a decision. We decide to move it to the parking garage. We had that as a contingency, but now we've got to take pads from eight rinks that are now soaked and weigh twice what they normally do because they retain the water and move them and that's all those guys. All those part timers, they jump right in.

"It's a pretty cool day."

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