Dunham Leads NHL Field at 'Drive Fore the Goal' Event
/ New York Rangers
Courtesy of NHL.com
Rangers goaltender Mike Dunham shot a 76 Friday to lead a field of 18 current and former NHL players in the opening round of the NHL 'Drive Fore the Goal' at the International Golf Club.
Dunham finished two strokes ahead of Phoenix Coyotes goalie Brian Boucher. Atlanta Thrashers forward Marc Savard and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ben Clymer were tied for third with scores of 79.
Tied for fifth at 80 were former NHL player and recently retired referee Paul Stewart and Boston Bruins forward Ted Donato. Former Boston Bruins forward Cam Neely and retired goalie Grant Fuhr, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, shot 81.
Also qualifying for Saturday's second round of play, at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass., are St. Blues forward Keith Tkachuk, Detroit Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan, Dallas Stars defenseman Don Sweeney, Coyotes goaltender Sean Burke and Boston Bruins defenseman Bryan Berard.
Stewart has another commitment and won't be able to play Saturday.
The NHL pros participated Friday in a best-ball Pro-Am event at The International Golf Course. Donato's group, which included local players Eric Bouts, Ed Crawford, Douglas Roeder and Bob Taylor, won the event with a team score of 56.
An NHL player will be in each of the last 12 threesomes to tee off Saturday for the second round of the FleetBoston Classic at Nashawtuc, starting at 7:30 a.m. ET. The six NHL players with the lowest scores Saturday will form two threesomes for Sunday's final round at Nashawtuc, which begins at 7:30 a.m. ET. The champion NHL golfer will present a $50,000 contribution to the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care.
The NHL players received a great compliment from one of the top Champions Tour players. Tom Purtzer, who shot a 65, good for second place one stroke behind leader Bruce Fleisher, grew up in Phoenix, a fan of the old minor-league Phoenix Roadrunners. He's a big fan now of Boucher, Burke and the rest of the Coyotes.
"Hockey is my favorite sport to watch," Purtzer said. "What they do on skates is by far the most incredible thing in sports. Plus, every hockey player I've met has been a really nice guy."
Purtzer said he was looking forward to playing with one of the NHL pros Saturday.
The public is invited to the Saturday and Sunday rounds at Nashawtuc Country Club. From Route 2 in Concord, take Sudbury Road south past the Route 117 intersection and Nashawtuc Country Club is on the left. The FleetBoston Classic will be televised on the Golf Channel Saturday and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:00 PM ET.
Dunham, 31, thus becomes one of the favorites to win the NHL side of the FleetBoston Classic. The native of Johnson City, N.Y., captured the hearts of New Englanders a decade ago when he helped lead the University of Maine to the 1993 NCAA championship. The New Jersey Devils drafted the netminder with their third pick (53rd overall) at the 1990 Entry Draft. Dunham was the Calder Cup playoff MVP award with the AHL's Albany River Rats, the Devils' affiliate, in 1995.
Dunham had a simple explanation for his success Friday. "Hey, my dad's a golf pro," he said with a laugh, before heading home to handle babysitting chores.
Savard is another serious threat, considering his recovery from a bad start Friday.
"I started bogey, bogey, double bogey, then went birdie, birdie, par, birdie," said Savard, who after being traded to Atlanta last season, bought a home along the TPC Sugarloaf course in Atlanta. The Ottawa native is also a member of Kawartha Country Club in Peterborough, Ontario, where he now lives in the offseason.
Play was delayed by rain for almost an hour, then stopped for almost a half hour shortly thereafter. Several players said the conditions presented a problem, particularly on the greens.
The pin position on the eighth hole was changed from the right front to the left rear of the green due to pooling water in the cup. A course official said it added a club and a half to reach the new target.
"It was tough weather," said Savard, a 2 handicap. "It was raining really hard early and the holes played long."