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Fire and Police Games begin Friday
LEWISTON -- The Maine Army and Air National Guard Hockey teams will be competing for bragging rights at this year’s International Fire and Police Games Tournament when they face each other at 11:50 a.m. Friday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Along with other first responders that are competing in the International Fire and Police Winter Games Hockey Tournament, both of them are hoping to face each other at the championship game at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Brig. Gen. James D. Campbell, Adjutant General of the Maine National Guard, will drop the ceremonial puck for this game and then enjoy what is certain to be fierce competition.
Campbell explained, “The Maine National Guard consists of citizen Soldiers and Airman that are highly trained to execute the needs of our state and federal missions and are active members of the communities which they reside. Members of our organization are excited to participate in a worthy cause and compete with first responders that proudly serve our communities.
Now in its third year with a new look to the organizations logo, including the military branches, the International Fire, Police & Military Winter Games is a charitable tournament to benefit Shriner's Hospitals for children – Boston; known world-wide for their excellence and dedication to the children they care for at the burn center and where no child 18 and under is every turned away for the inability to pay.
Tickets for the event are $10 per day or $15 for a tournament pass at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Children ages 12 and under are free. There will be commemorative t-shirts and other apparel for sale along with the new logo hockey pucks with the tournament’s name, The Maine Event, Battle on Ice.
Brenda Espinoza of Rumford is the executive director for the event. She said the mission of the winter games is to promote physical training during the winter months, while creating a fun atmosphere involving winter sports. Since moving the event to Maine, her native state, the winter sports didn’t take off as hoped, but the hockey tournament did.
“My passion for the event grows stronger each year with our original six teams coming back and new ones joining. It’s our small way of giving back to the heroes who protect us each and every day in our home towns, around the country and abroad. So come on out to Lewiston and cheer for your favorite team, by being there and having fun, you are helping us raise money for a great cause," she said.
Teams registered to date include Boston Fire, Lewiston PD, Maine Fire, Maine Air National Guard, Third Watch Hockey, Maine Army National Guard, Sanford PD and Somerville, MA PD. The top three teams will receive gold, silver and bronze medals, and the winning team will take home the new 2013 champion hockey trophy.
At 7:10 a.m. Friday, two local teams and rivals from the Lewiston PD and Maine Fire will drop the puck opening the event. Eight teams will play off each day in the round-robin. All teams will play through Sunday afternoon, ending with the championship game Sunday at 6 p.m.
“We are back to defend our title,” said Jim Theiss, detective and hockey player at the Lewiston PD, playing in the 2013 charity hockey tournament.
A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales, team registration, and merchandise will be presented to the Shriners Hospitals for Children by check at the end of the championship game. “As we grow so do our fundraising efforts, our first year in 2011 with the original six teams we raised $1,000. In 2012, with seven teams, we raised $1900 and this year with eight teams, we hope to raise at least $3,500. Thank you teams and spectators,” said Espinoza.
New this year is a silent auction that is posted on the organizations web-site. Items will be presented at the three-day event along with a 50/50 to help meet their fundraiser efforts. If anyone is interested in donating items, please give the IFPMWG a call at (357-5687).
“Gritty’s Pub of Lewiston will sponsor the welcome party with food and discounted drinks at 5 p.m. after the opening of the tournament on Friday. Pedro O’Hara’s will host the championship party, Sunday evening at 8:15 p.m.
All athletes, volunteers and spectators with tickets will be able to attend. They will be offering specials throughout the three-day event," said Espinoza.
The 2013 Sponsors and advertisers include Pedro O'Hara's, Gritty's Pub & Grill, The Hilton Garden Inn, The Maine Army National Guard, and Promos & Events by Brenda.
The IFPMWG is an all-volunteer group, including David Saphier, PA-C, Medical Officer Mexico and Dixfield Fire Departments, Jeffrey Clark, 911 Dispatcher, Maine State Police, Jim Theiss, Detective, Lewiston PD, Richard Jones, Deputy Fire Chief Mexico Fire Department and Lou Doucet, Margate/Coconut Creek Fire Rescue, Retired.
Espinoza said she wants to make the Maine Event, Battle on Ice an annual event, growing each year and raising more money to benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children – Boston. She added she's looking to expand the event to include entries from other countries and Canada.
For more information about the IFPMWG and team schedules, visit their website at www.ifpwg.com.