It was evident that Vancouver is indeed suffering from the NHL lockout as 5,000 hockey-deprived fans flocked to the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Stadium at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to watch some of their favourite players hit the ice against the UBC Thunderbirds in support of Canuck Place, the Canucks Autism Network and the Canucks Family Education Centre. The event, deemed Bieksa’s Buddies, raised $200,000 which half was comprised of ticket sales, and the other half matched by Burnaby-native Michael Buble.
Given the light-hearted scrimmage format, fans were quick to rip into soon-to-be starting goalie for the Vancouver Canucks, Cory Schneider. Surrendering 3 goals on 9 shots sure is reflective of a standard October start for Canucks’ goalies. Fans jumped back in to the loving Schneids as he decided to pull himself out of the night in the final minute of the third period despite Bieksa’s Buddies being up 8-7. Not to fret, teammate Henrik Sedin put on his best goalie stance to defend the lead.
A handful of celebrity participants were reported for the night’s affair. Michael Buble explained his late scratch: “It’s a lower body… it’s actually most of my lower body and also my upper body which didn’t allow me to play.” Performing in front of crowds of tens of thousands does not faze him, but playing in front of 5,000 Canucks fans? No dice. Joining Buble as coaches were Jason Garrison, Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler and 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Willie Mitchell.
The referee for tonight’s affair – Al Bieksa. Thinking this would lead to a few questionable calls against his sons, but instead it was full-blown one-sidedness after a blatant Bieksa trip in the third. “He’s pretty slow, so I don’t think he was in the right position to make that call,” says Kevin. To even things out, Thunderbirds’ player Ilan Cumberbirch was given “two minutes for looking so good” in actuality was a roughing call.
Manny “Maholtra” played most of the game with his brother-in-law Martin Nash of the Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS), and also the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash. Malhotra played the entire game without noticing that his jersey donned the misspelling of his last name.
Marty Bieksa also got an opportunity in the shootout following the game, taking Kevin’s place. You would have thought he was his brother, because his moved involved throwing a glove. I guess it runs in the family.
Prettiest goal of the ten-man shootout goes to Dan Hamhuis. He doesn’t seem like the guy to pull out a flashy move. Instead he pulled the Forsbergian one-handed puck-drag move with perfection.
The night ended with little lucky fans who received jerseys off the players’ backs. Bonus for the ladies was checking out Chris Higgins torso shot. Move over Ryan Kesler.
Seeing the core Canucks banding together and staying local really shows their dedication to hockey in Vancouver in addition to supporting charities who are also experiencing the financial strain due to the lockout.