There wasn’t a seat available this past Friday at Schenectady County Recreational Facility ice rink.
It was Mohawks vs. Storm — a rivalry matchup involving students from high schools across the county, but it was also a night to remember loved ones and fundraise for the American Cancer Society, a cause close to the hearts of millions.
Scott Chastenay, a volunteer with the Schenectady County Relay for Life, started the fundraiser game — the Hockey Fights Cancer Cup — four years ago. A father of a former Schenectady Youth Hockey Association player, he had seen so many Coaches vs. Cancer events involving high school and college basketball games and wanted to do something similar for the two high school hockey clubs close to home.
“I’m loving every minute of it,” Chastenay said of his experience putting on the event. “We came from this country youth hockey organization, and I knew there was a lot of talent there with their hockey players. And as they were moving on to high school, I thought it would be great to give them some attention that they deserve. And it also helps that as part of the Relay for Life of Schenectady County, it only made sense to incorporate.”
Hockey Fights Cancer is actually an initiative that began in the NHL in 1998. It is a joint effort between the league and players’ association to unite the hockey community in support of cancer patients and their families.
Mohawks’ head coach Ryan O’Connell married into a family that continues to experience the battle with cancer firsthand. His wife’s aunt passed away three years ago this past Thanksgiving.
On Hockey Fights Cancer Cup gameday, he makes sure he has everything in place, so that he’s prepared for the added emotions of the event.
“As a coach, I, personally, I always I kind of [make] sure that all my T’s are crossed, all my i’s are dotted,” O’Connell said, “in terms of being organized and being ready for any situation and being prepared as possible with kind of like coaching with a heavy heart at the same time, just trying to do my best as a coach.”
The game also serves as an opportunity for O’Connell to learn even more about his student-athletes, recognizing that at such a young age they, too, are in the fight against cancer right alongside family members, even within their immediate families.
He said one part of the event is attendees filling out “Hockey Fights Cancer” signs with the name(s) of those they are keeping in mind that night. The head coach said a lot of his team took the experience to heart and played for specific people. Players confirmed that intentionality. One said their mind was on their parent — now in remission — during the ceremonies but then it was all about the game, which the Storm won 3-2.
“I mean, he’s done everything,” one player said of his father who is in remission. “He’s driven me probably thousands of hours from Plattsburgh, Montreal to Buffalo. And with high school, he’s always driven me. …And I can’t thank him enough.”
The Scotia-Glenville High School pep band came to the game, which O’Connell thought added a college game-like atmosphere. There was also a ceremonial puck drop with a cancer survivor named Monica Herald and captains from each team.
Chastenay said the monies from raffles, ticket sales — a portion of which are being donated — and other donations are still being totaled. All will go towards the American Cancer Society of Schenectady County’s Relay For Life on June 10 at Niskayuna High School.
The trio of Joshua McKinney, Colin Wilson and Cole Davidson are the engine taking the Capital District Jets into the stratosphere this season. Each skater has 25 points or more. Wilson and McKinney are tied for second in the Capital District High School Hockey League in goals with 15, and Davidson is second in the CDHSHL in assists with 18.
How do all these individual statistics impact their club?
The three of them have scored 42 of 52 Jets’ goals this year — that’s 80.7%. McKinney and Davidson, individually, have had a hand more than 58% of the team’s tallies. Wilson isn’t far behind at 48%.
The Jets are on a four-game losing streak but remain very much in the hunt for a playoff spot a top-four finish. They have winnable games against the Storm and CBA this weekend, but McKinney, Wilson and Davidson need to keep pushing to take the team to higher elevation.
WEDNESDAY IN THE CDHSHL
Queensbury welcomes Albany Academy to the Glens Falls Rec Center Wednesday looking for its fourth-straight win. The Spartans have scored 27 goals during their current streak and just shutout the Mohawks on the road this past Saturday night.
Shenendehowa and Bethlehem meet up for the first time this season in what is probably the Eagles (10-2) first test of the league season. The goalies may just decide this one. The Plainsmen’s Mason Snider is starting to round into form after a slow start and Rory Cairns has been near lights out for Bethlehem.
The Mohawks are headed up to Glens Falls for game two at the Rec Center against Adirondack. Alex Doehla gives the Mohawks a chance on any given night between the pipes, but Adirondack has been pushing its way up the standings and currently sits tied for first with Queensbury on points (nine each).