Flyers Alumni and Cherokee Alumni Battle, Delivers old fashioned hockey for a cause

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” – Nelson Mandela

On Sunday, December 28, 2014, alumni athletes from the Flyers and Cherokee hockey clubs came together on the ice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees to play for the love of the game of hockey and to inspire awareness.

When you have success in any sport, the good times are always remembered when an alumni game is played, no matter the sport. This year the Cherokee Chiefs, led by Scott McKay decided to up the stakes in the 6th annual Jeff Burd Memorial alumni game, which benefits the Jeff Burd Memorial Fund. With this year’s game, three charities will benefit - USA Warriors, National Meningitis Foundation and the Virtua Wings of Steel.

The hook was who they would play. Coach McKay is close with several former Flyers, including Brian Propp as they served as best man for each other in their weddings. The Flyers alumni team is coached by former Flyer defenseman Joe Watson. Once Scott contacted Watson to see if his alumni team would be interested, Joe was immediately committed.

Putting on an event to raise enough money to support these charities and cover the expenses is an immense task, but McKay was determined to get this event going. It was apparent with the turnout last night at both the game, which was standing room only, and the after party which was wall-to-wall people at Victory Bar and Grill in Berlin there is no question that the fans responded, characteristic of the classic hockey fan.

The game was played at a really good pace and the Flyers alumni, led by septuagenarian Watson, led 4-1 into the second period. Cherokee alumni mounted a comeback led by Cole Zucker, Brian Miller and Aaron Huffnagle and tied the game at 4-4. Once again the Flyers went ahead 6-4, but the Chiefs alumni team would score three third period goals to edge the Flyers 7-6. Chris Sabol, who split time in nets with Justin Baderina, made several big stops down low in the final seconds to preserve the win for the Chiefs.

The bigger story is the amount of time the alumni give back to the community and fans - guys like Bob Kelly, who tries to attend to every function and stays and hangs out and Brian Propp who is always willing to sign an autograph, take a picture or just say “hi”. They are generous with their time and are the kind of veteran athletes that serve as inspiring ambassadors supporting the community.

As a Flyers fan growing up in the 1970’s, I was reminded of the thrill of those early days of ice hockey. These guys brought two Stanley Cups to Philadelphia fans and now they are still here, almost 40 years later still skating, still playing hockey, the sport they love for the benefit of others.

Written by Mike Costantino