As they have done each winter for the past 19 years, alumni of Soldotna and Kenai Central high schools will lace up their skates and face each other in a hockey game at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s about helping the kids and making money for the program,” said the organizer of this year’s alumni game, Terry Eubank.
The program that Eubank, a 1989 Kenai alumni, referred to is the Kenai Hockey Booster Club, of which Eubank is a member. Funds raised by the event’s $10 adult tickets, $5 child and senior tickets, and various raffles, games and concessions will be put toward the mission of this club, which purchases equipment, practice time, travel expenses and uniforms for the Kenai Central High School hockey team.
Rick Koch, an organizer responsible for player recruitment, said that in addition to Kenai and Soldotna players the game will include alumni from Skyview and Nikiski, distributed between the two teams to fill open spaces in the roster. As of Friday evening, Koch said he had recruited close to 20 players.
“But it’s always a last-minute deal. These old hockey players are pretty tough to teach to be organized,” said Koch.
Hockey will not be the only opportunity for Kenai and Soldotna to compete. In between periods of the alumni game, the two schools’ current hockey teams will face each other in a tug of war, with a $250 prize for the winner.
Intermission entertainment will also include a display of vehicles by sponsoring dealership Stanley Ford, which will also the opportunity to win a 2015 Ford Fiesta to a randomly selected ticket-holder, contingent upon that ticket-holder shooting a puck from the far blue line through a small hole in a piece of plywood standing in front of a goal. Santa Claus will allegedly appear at the game as well.
Rick Koch anticipates that the hockey itself will provide just as much entertainment as these spectacles.
“We’ve definitely got some hockey talent in the area,” he said. “It’ll be fun to watch.”
Among the players in this year’s alumni game who have professional or college-level hockey experience are Soldotna’s Lee Green, who played for the University of Alaska and on a professional team, Soldotna’s Anthony Zurfluh, Kenai’s former Division I players Brian Canady and Brian Gabriel Jr., and Kenai’s Phillip Ischi, who played professionally in Europe.
Eubank said he had no prediction of who would win the game because he hadn’t yet seen complete rosters of each team.
“That’s usually the key — who can get the old guard out. We’ll see who’s back for the holidays and wanting to play,” said Eubank.
Koch said he plans to be at the game.
“I really enjoy these alumni games,” Koch said. “Hockey is a sport that spans generations. It’s not uncommon to see kids out there playing with people who are 50, 60, 70 years old even, in the same game. It all just seems to work out. There are very few other sports where you see that kind of lifelong participation, being able to play and skate with folks who are generations different from each other.”
Reach Ben Boettger at firstname.lastname@example.org.