If you took a glance at the names on the backs of the sweaters at HP Pavilion on April 1, you’d think you were in a time warp. Baker. Bodger. Maley. Nicholls. Norton. Odgers. Stern. Suter. These familiar names have all graced the ice at the Shark Tank at some point during the team’s 15-year history.
But this wasn’t a stroll down Memory Lane. TheseSharks alumni were participating in “Shark For a Day” fantasy camp, an event that allows fans the rare opportunity to experience a day-in-the-life of a professional hockey player.
After putting on their equipment in their fully furnished locker rooms, the fantasy campers hit the ice for a morning skate led bySharks Assistant CoachesTim Hunter andRob Zettler . The hour-long morning skate started with a few warm-up laps around the rink and was followed by stretches, passing drills and breakaways.
The fantasy campers then were given the option of watching theSharks and Coyotes morning skate or relaxing their muscles with an onsite massage. Many did both, enjoying a quick massage and then watching the teams skate.
Lunch at The Grill was next on the agenda, where fantasy campers were able to dine with the alumni andSharks broadcastersRandy Hahn ,Dan Rusanowsky andDrew Remenda . In addition, participants took a “draft” photo withSharks Vice President and General ManagerDoug Wilson . Following lunch, the participants headed back into the locker rooms to get ready for the big game.
As participants skated through theSharks Head to their respective benches, their faces ranged from excited to focused. TheSharks home team featured formerSharks Doug Bodger, Jeff Norton, Gary Suter and David Maley, while theSharks away team boasted Bernie Nicholls, Jamie Baker, Ron Stern, Jeff Odgers and radio personality Lamont Hollywood.
From the opening faceoff dropped by S.J. Sharkie, to the final sound of the horn, the game remained close and competitive. In the end, theSharks away team pulled out a 10-9 victory over theSharks home team.
Once the game concluded, fantasy campers congregated for a postgame reception before heading back to HP Pavilion to watch theSharks take on the Phoenix Coyotes from the Penthouse Terrace.
Even though theSharks lost the game in overtime, it was still a night most fantasy campers will not soon forget.
“The whole event was great from beginning to end,” participant Ray Sbrana said. “From the morning skate to theSharks game at night, it was a great experience.”
For Jeff Daugherty, who played in goal for the home team, he was making his on-ice debut. “I played roller hockey for three or four years and I’ve been taking some ice-skating lessons over the past few months, but this was my first time on the ice.”
When asked about facing former NHL players, Daugherty simply smiled and said, “My goalie stick is ruined. There are four big gouges now from facing these NHL slapshots.”
“It was a dream come true,” Anne Dickson, one of two women participating in the event, said. “Today truly was a fantasy because I was able to play hockey all day and spend time with former NHL players. I would do it again next year and I can’t wait until my boys are old enough to share the experience with me.”
However, the participants weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the experience.
“It was a blast being out there,” former defenseman and Olympic silver medallist Suter said. “Some of the participants have only played hockey for a few years, but they really enjoyed the chance to go through what it’s like to be an NHL player for a day. It’s a great opportunity for people who enjoy hockey.”
The cost per participant for the event is $1,250 with proceeds benefiting TheSharks Foundation. This year’s “Shark For a Day” fantasy camp raised more than $10,000.
For more information about “Shark For a Day” fantasy camp or to be added to the mailing list for next year, please contactJeff Cafuir at email@example.com.