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Hockey-starved Fans Get Their Hockey Fix At Preds-Blues Alumni Game

by David Yampolsky / Nashville Predators

-- Preds Alumni Game Raises More Than $4,000 For Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital At Vanderbilt And Victims of Hurricane Sandy --

This past Saturday, fans were granted the opportunity to see live hockey, with a twist. Nearly 800 avid hockey fans from across Middle Tennessee crowded into A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin to witness a game between the Nashville Predators alumni and St. Louis Blues alumni.

The alumni game, organized by former Predators player and current Predators Radio color commentator Stu Grimson, not only brought some long-awaited hockey to the Nashville area, but helped two great causes. Proceeds from the game went to relief efforts for Superstorm Sandy and to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. Though the suggested donation was $5, many fans, along with several players, contributed much more.

At the conclusion of the National Anthem, A-Game Sportsplex erupted in cheers, as fans strove to recreate the atmosphere of a typical Predators game at 501 Broadway. The game consisted of three periods, 15 minutes each. The Predators alumni were coached by Preds TV analyst Terry Crisp and hockey operations advisor/former associate coach Brent Peterson, while the Blues alumni were under the leadership of hockey media personality and former NHL netminder Darren Pang. Notable players for the Predators team included J-P Dumont, Dan Keczmer, Stu Grimson and Tom Callahan, whose phenomenal performance between the pipes backstopped the Predators to a 9-8 win. Players of note for the Blues included Kelly Chase, Reed Low, Tyson Nash and Terry Yake.

Familiar chants heard in Bridgestone Arena resounded as fans were delighted by both the fast pace of the game and the participants’ good sense of humor. Highlights included a pair of goals by Dumont, a hat trick by Nash, a mock fight between Grimson and Low which ended with the two playing Go Fish in the penalty box while eating some pizza, and Crisp jumping out in the middle of the ice for an impromptu coaching session with Callahan. There was even a sense of urgency on both sides toward the end of the game, as the close score encouraged both teams to push on until the final buzzer sounded.

Overall, players on both teams could not have been happier to participate. Nash, who was honored as the game’s MVP by receiving an autographed picture of Grimson along with a pie in the face, expressed his admiration for the fans that came out.

“What I was most impressed about was the fans here in Nashville and the turnout,” Nash said. “The important thing is the Nashville Predators fans were looking for it and they were out here supporting their team and it’s really nice to see. This is a great city and I always looked forward to playing here when I was with the Blues and Coyotes. Nashville is a place that all players look forward to.”

Grimson, the mastermind of the entire event, echoed Nash’s words, offering a small glimpse into the future.

“Guys were going at it pretty hard,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. We will do it again.”

The citizens of Smashville cured their sweet tooth for hockey on Saturday night. As the evening’s attraction came to a conclusion, the faces of fans and players alike were all smiles. We can look forward to a trip back to Smashville in the near future.

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