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Gaudreau, Eichel always on hand for Comm Ave Classic

NHL players from Boston University, Boston College circle calendars every summer for charity event

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Like most NHL players, Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau looks forward to some down time in the summer to rest and heal after a long season.

But there is one offseason event Gaudreau always makes time for on his schedule, much to the delight of Pat Mullane, an organizer of the annual Comm Ave Charity Classic, which pits notable Boston College and Boston University alumni against each other at Walter Brown Arena.

"It's amazing; Johnny will reach out to me to play," Mullane said. "He'll say, 'When is the game this year so I can schedule my summer around it?' That says something about him as a guy."

 

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The third edition of the event took place Friday, and even with the Boston Red Sox hosting the New York Yankees down the street at Fenway Park, area hockey fans contributed $64,481 at the game, which benefits the Travis Roy Foundation and Compassionate Care ALS.

CCALS has grown in prominence here because of the plight of former BC baseball player Pete Frates, the creator of the ice bucket challenge, who has ALS.

"You put the rivalry aside, you put the game to the side and you worry about what the real cause is," Gaudreau said, "and it's great to be a part of it."

There were plenty of familiar names in the lineups: Gaudreau, New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes and New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider played at BC, and Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel and Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle played at BU.

Tweet from @drosennhl: A few ex-Boston College players who are fairly well known. pic.twitter.com/Be87fySWaC

Gaudreau received a warm response from the fans and scored two goals, but BU won 8-6. Eichel scored twice for BU.

"Everyone knows who Jack is and wants his time," Mullane said, "but for him to give up a night to come here for us has been great."

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy participated in the game for the first time as an NHL player. He played six games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after leaving BU following his sophomore season.

"It's really special. It's obvious it's such a great cause," McAvoy said. "It's unbelievable to come back. It's a small thing you do to dedicate one night to coming out and playing the game you love. The proceeds and the support that you get from everybody it makes it pretty special."

More than $170,000 has been raised in the past three years, so the Comm Ave Charity Classic figures to continue to be a date to circle on the calendar for alumni for years to come.

"I think the money says a lot, but we're more impressed with the hockey community and how receptive the players have been and how receptive the fans have been," said Mullane, who co-organizes the event with Andrew Orpik and Justin Murphy. "To give up a Friday night in the middle of summer when you could be on [Cape Cod] or at a Red Sox game but you're here in a hockey rink, it says a lot about the Boston community and the hockey community."

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