Sunday, December 2, 2012

'Oldtimer' Hockey Players Score Big With Local Charity

When a group of about 100 admitted "oldtimers" hit the ice to play hockey at Tampa Bay Skating Academy last weekend, their goal wasn't only to get the puck into the net.

Florida Oldtimers' Hockey Association players practice
recently for the Senior Charity Hockey Tournament.
It was to help feed those in need in the Tampa Bay area. They not only made their goal, in some ways they exceeded it.

The 3rd Annual Senior Charity Hockey Tournament, organized by The Florida Oldtimers' Hockey Association to help support local charities, raised $6,650 - 10 percent more than what they had hoped to raise. That amount will provide nearly 27,000 meals worth of food to local families in need.

On top of that, the hockey players who participated in the November 23 through 25 event collected an estimated 1,200 pounds of non-perishable food items to give to this year's charity, Feeding America Tampa Bay.

Thomas Mantz, CEO of Feeding America
Tampa Bay, holds a check presented to him
by Neil Armstrong, right, & Scott McCance.
"I'm very proud and happy to announce that we exceeded our goal," Neil Armstrong, one of the event founders, said. "A lot of these guys play in tournaments all over the place, but this is unique because it's for a charity. They all have a good time and they feel good about it."

Tampa Bay Skating Academy donated referees and scorekeepers for all three days, as well as practice ice. Other sponsors included Tampa CoPack, which donated water for all the games, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Beaudin's Hockey Zone, Keel & Curley Winery and restaurants such as the Outback, Jack Willie's, and Lee Roy Selmon's.

Sponsors donated everything from time, food and water to trophies, raffle donations and silent auction items.

All of the hockey players in the Oldtimers' Hockey Association are 50 years old or up. However, there were a handful of younger players in their 40s who participated in the tournament. "We allow three or four to give the old guys a break once in a while," Armstrong said, laughing. "It's a weekend of hockey. That's a lot of hockey."

At top, the Hennessy's won first place in Division A.
The Tampa Tropics, at bottom, took second place.
During the course of the weekend, about 250 people came to the Oldsmar rink to support and cheer on their teams. The first and second place winners in each division received a trophy during the awards ceremony on Sunday.

"It's a great cause - and we had a blast!" said Scott McCance, whose team, the Hennessy's, came in first place in Division A.

The Killer Bees, at top, captured first place in Division B.
The Focus All Stars, at bottom, won second place.
But win or lose, the real goal was helping those in need who don't know where their next meal will come from.

About 50 million Americans - or one in six people across the country - struggle with hunger.

Last year, Feeding America Tampa Bay provided food to more than 400,000 people in its 10-county service area in West Central Florida. The food bank is a resource to 600 approved charities that operate some type of feeding program, including soup kitchens, food pantries, emergency shelters and Kids Cafe sites.

"It's about doing something to help other people," Armstrong said.

The idea to start a charity hockey tournament came about from a meeting among Armstrong, McCance, Rich Stack, Frank Daly and Norm Dann, founder of The Florida Oldtimers' Hockey Association.

The hockey players were sitting around at a restaurant shortly after Tampa Police Officers Dave Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab were killed during a traffic stop in June 2010.

"It was a tough time for the whole city," Armstrong said. So he and his buddies decided they wanted to do something to help. They put together a mini-tournament with four teams.

The first charity hockey tournament raised $4,500 for the Tampa Police Officers' memorial fund. The second year, they raised $5,500 for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

All of the charity events have been held at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy in Oldsmar. 

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