In Alberta this week, temperatures are bitter cold reaching bone-chilling lows in the -40s and -50s C. But a brisk Canadian deep freeze isn’t stopping this group of courageous and caring hockey players from competing in a game that will help save lives.
International Hockey Academy General Manager Darcy Hodge and 39 others are braving long, bitter cold shifts in an attempt to break the world record for the World’s Longest Hockey Game. The goal is to raise $1.5 million in support of the Cure Cancer Foundation.
Like many, many others, cancer touches the lives of Hodge and his family closely.
“Everyone playing has a cancer story. I lost my dad to Multiple Myeloma cancer. My wife is a Breast Cancer survivor, my brother-in-law is in remission from stage four Melanoma and one of my very good friends is currently in treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
The game began February 4 and will run 24 hours a day until 252 hours of continuous play have been reached on February 15, regardless of temperature or injury.
“Much like an NHL roster, nobody can join after we start. If someone drops off, you just have to play with less.”
This year’s game looks much different due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Prior to the game, all players had to go into isolation before they were eligible to play. Once on-site, the players are unable to leave until the game has ended. The biggest challenge of all, however, has been playing to a nonexistent crowd. Normally hundreds of cheering fans fill the stands but strict COVID protocols have reduced fans to drive-bys and moral support with signs and honking from afar.
“I have got to send out a huge shout out to all the guys in the game, their passion, their dedication and how everyone bans together for the cause,” Hodge remarks. “If a player goes down, everyone just chips in and does more. We all have the same end goal in mind.”
Since 2003, the World’s Longest Games have raised more than $5.47 million for life-saving cancer research. While the game has reached its halfway point, it’s still far from being over and the freezing temperatures don’t seem to be warming up anytime soon.
You can do your part to help make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer. Help Hodge surpass his goal of $20 thousand by making a donation today.
Photos: Mandy Kostiuk Photography