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Former NHL and women's national team members play to help York Region homeless
Nov. 8, 2016
By Michael Hayakawa

When a group of former National Hockey League players take to the Angus Glen Community Centre ice in Markham on Nov. 18 it is anticipated they will have plenty of fun and laughs.

After all, they are not competing for the Stanley Cup.

At the same time, they will play a game for something that matters - to assist the homeless in York Region, a big part of which includes a growing number of youths between the ages of 16 and 19.

In offering assistance to those disadvantaged individuals, 12 corporate teams along with a group of former NHL players will participate in this year’s Hockey Helps the Homeless tournament.

Scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., this year’s event marks the 21st that took roots when Markham resident Gary Scullion and some of his friends took to the Maple Leaf Gardens ice during the early years to raise funds to help the homeless.

With the venue moving north into Markham, event proceeds have gone directly to 360 kids.

Citing over 22,000 people in Markham live under the poverty line and more than 22.5 per cent of that segment includes children, 360 kids is a support program creating long-term housing for youths transitioning from homelessness.

A total of 10, two-bedroom apartments are sourced for youths between the ages of 16 to 19 to stay for a maximum of three years.

The youths receive ongoing support from 360 kids to help them remain in school, find employment and work through their challenges.

Youths seeking this service may be unable to reside at their home due to abuse, emotional neglect, family dysfunction, breakdown or educational difficulties.

Scott Page, a Hockey Helps the Homeless spokesman, said they hope to raise anywhere from $125,000 to $150,000 from this year’s event through levels of local, national and global corporate and individual sponsorship.

Within the tournament format, Page noted each team is comprised of 14 players that includes two former professional players.

As a means of determining which teams the former NHL players will be on, the event will conduct a draft night at Wegz Stadium Bar in Vaughan at 6 p.m. Thursday hosted by Markham resident and long-time Toronto Maple Leafs radio voice Joe Bowen.

Former NHL players expected to participate include: former Markham resident Mike Zigomanis, Stouffville resident Keith Acton, Shayne Corson, Wayne Primeau, Georges Laraque, Gilbert Dionne, Laurie Boschman, Luca Caputi, Todd Warriner, Todd Harvey, Bryan Berard, Bernie Nicholls, Darrin Shannon, Dave McLlwain, Darryl Shannon and Glenn Anderson.

Also participating are some current and former Canadian women’s national team and Canadian Women’s Hockey League members including: Natalie Spooner, Rebecca Johnston, Jayna Hefford, Bailey Bram, Jocelyn Larocque, Geraldine Heaney and Angela James.

Having participated in other Hockey Helps the Homeless events across the province, Zigomanis is looking forward to returning to his Markham roots and to play for a worthy cause.

“It’s a great event they put on,” he said. “The program they do to bring the pros in and to fundraise, it’s a great get together and to acknowledge the hard work by everyone including the volunteers who help out, it’s great.

“It’s nice to be a part of this.”