The third annual police department versus fire department hockey game drew hundreds of people to the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena for a night of cheers and laughs with friends and family.
All first responders played their hearts out, and it was evident by the many fist-pumps and post-goal celebrations that they had a great time doing it.
Proceeds from the game will go to the Island Autism Group (IAG), a non profit organization that serves autistic children and their families, and provides resources to the local school systems on the Vineyard.
Member of IAG, Brooke Avakian, said the money from the raffle and donation box will go to the group’s new after school program for kids with intellectual disabilities. She also said the game is a great way to spread knowledge and awareness of autism.
“This is an opportunity for us to get information to the public and spread the word,” Avakian said. “Autism is a part of our Island, and it’s great to see people who are caring and supportive, it’s very encouraging.”
Avakian’s son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was 2 ½.
Members of IAG were there to hand out fliers and selling t-shirts and other merchandise.
Spectators could buy player cards with first responders names and pictures on them.
Many different prizes were raffled off to benefit IAG, like boxing gear, a bruins jersey, an “Island box,” and a spa day. All were donated by generous organizations and businesses.
An introductory speech honored the first responders and encouraged people to donate to IAG.
“All players in today’s game are members of the first responder community,” the speech read. “Today’s game shows how these men and women would do anything for this community.”
Before announcing the name of each player, Sgt. Tommy Smith of the Edgartown police department was recognized for his more than 30 years of dedicated service.
Officer Danny Gouldrup, who passed away in September, was also honored and a moment of silence was taken.
“Officer Gouldrup was an active member of the West Tisbury police department and served for over 30 years.”
Members of the Coast Guard station Menemsha Honor Guard were recognized and thanked for their continued dedication to the safety and well-being of the Island community.
“With or without pay this crew was there for us as they always have been. Thank you.”
Sponsors of the game were also thanked for their support of IAG and their commitment to the cause.
The ceremonial puck emblazoned with the IAG emblem was dropped by Derek Avakian and his son, Cooper.
And with that, the action began, with Tisbury detective Max Sherman hitting a snipe from right within the fire team zone.
A quick wrist shot from Oak Bluffs officer Kyle Sutherland started the police pull-away.
The first goal for the fire team came with 10 minutes left in the first period, when Oak Bluffs firefighter Andrew Carroll slipped a shot through the leg pads of police goalie Dayce Moore, of the Edgartown squad.
During the intermission, the audience was treated with an impressive display of grace and skill as Island figure skaters Laila Branca and Sally Caron took to the ice.
Second period highlights included a deadly-accurate corner shot by Oak Bluffs fireman Nelson Dickson, and impressive goaltending from both teams.
The only penalty of the game was on Sherman, after he dove onto the ice to stop a shot from incoming Oak Bluffs EMS skater Belle Dinning.
After the horn sounded for the end of the two-period game, the police emerged victorious with a final score of 7-4.
But the action wasn’t over; a shootout tested the players accuracy, and the goalies precision blocking.
After the game, police and fire posed for pictures together, high-fived frenetic children, and embraced after another bout of friendly competition.