By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
When the Boston Bruins Alumni lace up the skates and take the ice for a game, it’s not for points, to move up in the standings, or even for awards, it’s to help an organization raise money and awareness for their charity. That was precisely the case when the black and gold of yesteryear took the ice against the Light Foundation All-Stars at Warrior Ice Arena on December 18.
The latest game saw the Alumni defeating the All-Stars 13-9, but the game meant so much more this time because it was the last event for President Rick Middleton before he hands the reigns over to Frank Simonetti. Middleton served 15 years as alumni president. Unfortunately, Middleton had to miss the game against the Warrior for Life Foundation on December 3 due to the flu.
“I did not want to miss this one,” Middleton said. “We’ve played this game for years down in Providence. It’s always a fun game. It’s always a bit of a competitive game. Matt (Light), at his Foundation, is such a great guy. We always like to help out other athletes and their causes.”
Middleton said that even though they play to win, putting the roster together for each charity event can be tricky because he never knows what type of players the opposing team will have. In addition, he has a lot of alumni to consider.
“My job is to keep our guys happy,” he explained. “I can’t just put in all our young guys every game because we want to win. And we play to win, but we don’t play to blow teams out. That’s why it’s real out there; it’s a competitive game.”
Middleton added that it’s more important for the former players to become a part of the alumni, whether they play in games or not. The alumni had 35 former Boston players that may have played just a handful of games for the Bruins or years for the Bruins. It doesn’t matter how long they wore the uniform. Middleton said marquee players and guys that just played maybe even one game are treated the same way, and he believes the guys appreciate that.
The Alumni put former players Zdeno Chara, Ray Bourque, Joe Mullin, Chris Bourque, Mark Mowers, Bob Sweeney, Tim Sweeney, Bob Beers, and Simonetti on the ice against the Light Foundation All-Stars. In contrast, Light Foundation Board Member Bob Loffredo put together a team of Rhode Island hockey guys he grew up playing hockey with, and the results were not what he wanted.
“We had them for a while, but a couple of their goals were a little sketchy if you ask me,” Loffredo joked. “It’s all for a good cause. We’ll get them next year.”
Loffredo not only plays in the game but is also the organizer of the event, which Matt Light, founder of the Light Foundation, appreciates.
“It was all Bobby; he knew I know nothing about hockey,” Light explained. “He told me he would take care of everything. […] This (event) has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. Those dollars go a long, long way.”
Light said being an athlete from New England is special and recognizes that the success of the sports franchises in the region would be nothing without the fans. He expressed that fans’ support does not go unnoticed, which is why he takes the time to talk with them at events like these.
“For anybody that has played in this region, everyone takes pride in seeing the organization do well,” Light said. “I think what you have in New England is unique because you have every major sports team and franchise; they are very well represented. It’s a brotherhood across the board.
“I think the Bruins Alumni, without a shadow of a doubt, are the best at what they do within their communities. I don’t think there’s another NHL team that holds a candle to what they do and how they organize it, and that speaks to the fans here.”
The Bruins Alumni may have defeated the Light Foundation All-Stars, but the kids that the Foundation helps are the true winners. Loffredo and Light said the best part of what they do is seeing the kids they help come back and talk about their success to those in the program.