The Red Deer community will come together as one on Friday to honour and celebrate the lives of the victims in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, as well as to raise funds for the families left reeling.
Beginning with a 4:30 tailgate party, the Battle of the Badges pits the city’s RCMP officers versus EMS and firefighters. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. at the new Servus Arena.
Two local Mounties who both played junior hockey on the prairies are behind the event. They say the tragedy hit close to home, which is what prompted them to put the wheels in motion for the charity game.
“I’ve been playing organized hockey since I was six, so riding a bus from the ages of six to 20,” says Cst. Greg Douglas, an alumnus of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. “You’re a part of a family when you’re playing junior, with your billet family, your teammates and you’re on the bus for hours on end.”
Douglas’s partner in crime is Cst. Kyle Smeltzer, who played for the Melville Millionaires of the SJHL, and faced off against the Humboldt Broncos in the league final in the early 2000s.
“To be able to put this on and do something for those guys and their families, it means a lot to me,” he says.
“I have some fond memories of playing against Humboldt and in that arena. I also travelled the same roads as them, so it definitely hits close to home for me.”
To help put on the event, The City moved around some ice times and donated the ice for the game. Local businesses, as well as the Edmonton Oilers have donated several items for the silent auction, including framed and signed jerseys.
The tailgate party will feature a $5 deal for a burger and pop. Admission to the game is by donation and there will be 50/50.
All of the proceeds go to the victims and their families.
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