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HomeNewsPuck set to drop for Maple Leafs alumni game in Huntsville

Puck set to drop for Maple Leafs alumni game in Huntsville

After years of planning, and multiple postponements, the puck is ready to drop on the vision of late Rotary Club of Huntsville member Ross Kirwin.

A team of Toronto Maple Leafs alumni will go toe-to-toe with some of Huntsville’s finest on Oct. 22 at the Canada Summit Centre. 

Notably, the alumni team will include the team’s first 50-goal scorer Rick Vaive and former captain Wendel Clark. Gary Leeman, Al Iafrate, Matt Martin, and Mikhail Grabovski are some of the other players that will be involved in the game. Paul Evans, Rotarian with the Rotary Club of Huntsville, says Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano will be part of the team taking on the alumni and Olympic Gold medalist and Huntsville-born Dara Howell will be coaching the Huntsville team. 

Evans says Adrian Musters, a dentist at Main Street Dental, will get his “15 minutes of fame” as the goalie for the alumni team.

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Rob Saunders, Chair of the Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni Game Committee, says this is the vision of Ross Kirwin who passed away last April. He explains Kirwin’s son played in one of the many games organized by the Maple Leafs Alumni Association. It was that game that inspired Kirwin to bring the game to Huntsville as a fundraiser. 

Evans explains all the money will go towards building a four-season sports pad at Lions Lookout, which he says was the “brainchild” of Kirwin. Evans adds the pad is “badly needed” in Huntsville.

“We all bought in,” Saunders says about when Kirwin first pitched the idea for the game. He adds that Kirwin always “kept you on your toes” and you could always count on him to be by your side to help. “When he got ideas for projects, he just dove in,” Saunders says. “You wanted to work with the guy because he was skilled, he was fun to be with. He drove you nuts a bit because I don’t think he ever slept. He was always thinking about how to tweak something or do this or that.”

After reaching out to the alumni association, the game was planned for the spring of 2020, but that was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was later rescheduled to earlier this year but, again, was cancelled because of the pandemic. Now, with a game scheduled and a team of Huntsville residents, including Kirwin’s son, practicing, Saunders couldn’t be more excited. 

Just before the end of the first period, the Huntsville Sting girl’s under-15 hockey team will play the alumni team for five minutes. Evans says two Timbits teams will face off once that ends. There will also be a chuck-a-puck contest and 50/50 draw with proceeds going towards the fundraiser. 

Tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for those 12 and under, and kids under five get in for free. Saunders says tickets can be bought at the door but recommends buying them ahead of time through the Rotary Club of Huntsville’s website. 

Evans says there will be a meet and greet with the players after the game. “It’s nice to see everybody able to get out and participate,” he says.

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