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Regina Fire and Police to face-off in charity hockey game for first time in over 20 years

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The Regina Fire and Protective Services and Regina Police Service are returning to the ice for a now sold out charity hockey game for the first time in more than 20 years.

"I’ve been a firefighter for a little over 17 years, I’m a big hockey player myself. So I’m extremely happy we’re bringing this back and we’re hoping to make it an annual tradition again,” Regina firefighter Jay Ott said.

Ott is the chair of the Hydrants and Hearts Charitable Society. The non-profit charity is comprised of Regina firefighters and all Local 181 employees and is hosting this year’s event. It partners with non-profits throughout the city that need financial and volunteer support to run their programs. That includes programs such as Carmichael Outreach, ECIP Early Childhood Intervention Program, KidsFirst, and SCEP Socialization.

All proceeds from the event will go directly to the campaign.

“I think every year it would be nice to support a different cause. We have a massive campaign that Hydrants and Hearts is taking on this year. Moving forward that can change year to year. If the police have an initiative that is near and dear to their heart, we would be more than willing to support them,” Ott explained.

There does not seem to be a specific reason why the game has not taken place for over 20 years in Regina, but the idea came back thanks to a pair of brothers, one who is a police officer and the other a firefighter.

A large portion of both local occupations have a background in the sport of hockey, with a lot having played at a junior or even higher level before entering the work force.

“It’s kind funny. I mean our whole team has played some high level hockey in the past. I think a lot of core value you kind of learn playing junior hockey and stuff like translate in the professional of firefighting quite well,” Tyler Giebel, a Regina firefighter and former junior hockey player said. “It’s just nice to give back to charity and it’s been so long playing in front of a crowd. It’ll be good to get the nerves going.”

“I think mainly it’s just the team aspect of both jobs. Growing up from Saskatchewan and Canada even, you’re playing hockey at a young age. In both of our professions now it’s similar type of stuff, team stuff, just at a more serious level. I think it’s the teamwork aspect,” Regina police officer, Matt Strueby added.

Strueby hails from Regina and played for his hometown team, the Regina Pats from 2007-2010.

Both sides say they are looking forward to moving the friendly rivalry onto the ice.

“You hear stories of captains around the hall telling stories about how it got a little bit chippy and out of hand. We haven’t been chirping back and forth too much [yet]. I think everyone’s a little unclear of how it’s going to be. But I mean that’s just a given that police and fire [there’s going to be a rivalry]. In the streets we work hand in hand every day but you throw Canada’s game between the two and it could get a little out of hand,” Giebel said jokingly.

Members of Regina Police Service practice in White City, Sask. ahead of Saturday's game. (BritDort/CTVNews)“I would expect it to get intense. You’re dealing with players aged 20-40, very competitive people. A lot of experienced hockey players that have played junior hockey, semi-pro or college,” Ott said.

 

The New York Police Department (NYPD) and New York Fire Department (FDNY) have been known for their charity hockey game and it’s wild antics. The last few years the game has ended with viral brawls.

The event draws in thousands of fans and is hosted in NHL arenas. This has sparked other departments from across the U.S. and Canada to start or bring back their own games.

“It’s super cool. I mean everyone in the hockey world follows the NYPD and FDNY thing. So it’s pretty cool to be a part of it here and the first one in about 20 years,” Strueby said.

“Battle of the Badges” presented by Extreme Hockey, will have a ceremonial puck drop before the game.

It will get underway at 2 p.m. at the Cooperators Centre in Regina on Saturday.

There will also be plenty of events going on before hand, including numerous prizes to be won and raffle items to check out. A fire truck and police cruiser will be on scene for kids to tour around and get pictures with. Regina Pats mascot, K9, and Saskatchewan’s Gainer the Gopher will also be present.

The game officially sold out Wednesday afternoon. 

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