By Charles Vanegas
Team Stamkos triumphed over Team Subban 14-10 on Wednesday night in the RBC Play Hockey Charity Challenge, held at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. The two teams, led by Toronto natives Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban, played to a capacity crowd and were able to raise $100,000 for the NHLPA’s Goals & Dreams Fund and RBC’s Play Hockey initiative, which aim to help the growth of grassroots hockey.
“It was special, as a Toronto kid. Obviously there’s a lot of rich tradition here [so] it wasn’t a tough sell for players, especially ones from this area, to come and play in this event,” said Stamkos, the reigning NHL goal-scoring champion after netting 60 in 2011-12. “We had fun and it was a successful night.”
The game featured 39 NHL players, and with the uneven number of players, Team Subban had to rely on a familiar face at Ryerson: Rams goalie Louie George. The fifth-year player entered the game in the second period and received praise from a number of NHLers afterwards.
“[He had] a couple of big saves there. He got a good reaction from the crowd on a 3-on-1 save,” said New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto. “He did a great job — there are some good players out there — especially in a game like this, where the D aren’t getting down and dirty and blocking shots.”
George said being able to be a part of events such as this has made the long wait for the completion of the MAC worth it.
“[It’s great] to be able to get an opportunity like this and to play at Maple Leaf Gardens,” said George. “A lot of the players said they grew up watching games at Maple Leaf Gardens… and to be able to do something like this, especially with the lockout, it’s been really fun for everyone.”
The game had a large Toronto Maple Leafs presence, with 10 members of the team participating.
“It was nice for me to be on the ice with some teammates again, guys I haven’t skated with — Phil [Kessel], Dion [Phaneuf], we haven’t really seen each other since the end of last year,” said forward Joffrey Lupul.
Also playing were former Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle and goalie Jonas Gustavsson.