Three thousand Caniacs filled the PNC Arena on Sunday, April 1 for the first ever Alumni Fantasy Game. Not only did Hurricanes fans get to see legends on the ice, but season ticket holders and fans got a chance to play as well. Thirty players paid to skate alongside Ron Francis, Rod Brind’Amour, Glen Wesley, Jesse Boulerice, and of course, the always entertaining Mr. Tripp Tracy.
The teams were split up into Team White and Team Red, with Brind’Amour as Captain for White and Dave Lewis as coach, and Francis as Captain for Red and John MacLean as coach. The Alumni Game was truly modeled after a normal Carolina Hurricanes home game. The teams came out for warm ups, there were interviews with players, they even played “Noise” – just in case you didn’t hear me yell out “Oh they’re playing Noise!” from where you were sitting. The full roster for both teams was announced prior to puck drop and each team member got to skate out and line up on the ice. There were contests with Maggie Reaves and the Storm Squad and of course some hilarious “Ask the Alumni” videos which included questions like “Which player is in the best shape?” (I believe it was unanimously Rod “the Bod” Brind’Amour.)
John Forslund called the game from the ice, and Tripp Tracy was mic’d up for the last few minutes of each period. There was of course plenty of chirping going on from Forslund (he even made sure to check in with Tripp and make sure his groin was holding up okay.)
The White Team led the game all day, with Tripp Tracy only allowing one goal in the first 40 minutes of play. The Red Team fought back in the third, netting five goals, including a hat trick from Shane Willis. The Red Team also saw a goal from Henry Staal, father of Canes Captain Eric Staal, who had the crowd going wild with his copycat of Eric’s traditional “jump into the glass” goal celebration. In the last two minutes of the third, the Red Team pulled their goalie, and emptied the bench onto the ice as the “extra attackers”. As the final horn sounded, Team White prevailed 9-6.
A few other notable moments:
-Tripp bantering with John until he saw Ron Francis coming toward him with the puck. His response “Uh oh.”
-There were two penalty shots in the game. One of which saw Tripp Tracy rejecting the great Ron Francis.
-Jesse Boulerice also achieved a hat trick to help lead the White Team to victory.
-There were several “Let’s Go Canes!” chants, but toward the end, the crowd was divided with “Let’s Go White!” and “Let’s Go Red!” chants.
The score was not the most important part of the game. All proceeds from the game went to the Kids ‘N Community Foundation, and over $50,000 was raised to be put back into the community through grants. And despite the scores, the players seemed more than happy to make a contribution to the Foundation in order to share the ice with their heroes. You could see many friends and families in the crowd who showed up in homemade team shirts, or with signs cheering on their “player” for the day. It was also a great treat for fans, who perhaps never thought they’d see their favorite players back on the ice – especially in such a relaxed, fun-filled environment.
All signs point to the Alumni Fantasy Game being an annual event, so don’t despair if you didn’t make it this year. But make sure to clear your calendars for 2013, because this game is definitely not to be missed.
And don’t forget, our “current” Canes will be taking on the Ottawa Senators tomorrow at 7:00pm. Check back tomorrow for your game day preview.