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Shannon delivering a Big Assist

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators forward Ryan Shannon is lending his name and his time to the Big Assist, a charity hockey game in his home town in Connecticut that raises funds for victims of spinal cord injuries (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images).

Undoubtedly, it has become Ryan Shannon's biggest off-season assist.

The Ottawa Senators forward is already enthused as he talks about the Big Assist, an annual charity hockey game in his hometown of Darien, Conn., that raises funds to aid individuals suffering from spinal cord injuries.

The official benefactor of the July 14 event is the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation, which is named after Shannon's first minor hockey coach and a pillar of the community.

"This is the fun project of the summer for me," said Shannon. "It’s a charity hockey game that has pro and top college hockey players, NHL alums and just some guys that are passionate about the game in the area. It supports spinal cord injuries.

"(Obie) was my first coach, back when I was a mite, just a skating helmet. He was the coach of our local team and he suffered a spinal cord injury while swimming in the ocean (and is now a quadriplegic). This is just a chance for me and other pro players to give back. It’s a great cause and, hopefully, we’ll get around 3,000 people to come and watch the game."

Last year's inaugural Big Assist was played before a full house of 700 in Darien. This year, they've moved it to the bigger Terry Connors Ice Rink in nearby Stamford, Conn. Two local minor pro players, Jaime Sifers (Minnesota Wild organization) and Hugh Jessiman (Nashville Predators), will also take part in the game.

For more information on the event, log on to

Senators unveil eight-game pre-season schedule

The Senators will see plenty of their two biggest Northeast Division rivals before the games even start for real in the 2010-11 season.

Matchups with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens dominate an eight-game pre-season schedule released by the team today. The Senators open the slate with back-to-back games in Toronto on Sept. 21 and 22 and also face the Leafs at Scotiabank Place on Sept. 29.

Also part of the schedule are home-and-away games with the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 24 at the Bell Centre and Sept. 25 at Scotiabank Place. Ottawa closes out the pre-season with a pair of games against the Rangers — Oct. 1 at Madison Square Garden and Oct. 2 at Scotiabank Place.

Rounding out the pre-season schedule is the annual Kraft Hockeyville game, which this year features the Senators and Buffalo Sabres on Sept. 28 in Dundas, Ont.

The National Hockey League will release the full 2010-11 schedule on Tuesday at noon.

For more from Sens forward Ryan Shannon, listen to our exclusive Friday Phone Call off-season feature.

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