Fire, police, military hockey tourney opens this weekend

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LEWISTON — The Maine Army and Air National Guards hockey teams will compete for bragging rights Friday at The Maine Event, Battle on Ice at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Brig. Gen. James D. Campbell, adjutant general of the Maine National Guard, will drop the ceremonial puck at 11:50 a.m. Jan. 11.

“Members of our organization are excited to participate in a worthy cause and compete with first responders who proudly serve our communities,” he said.

The guardsmen are among the eight teams registered for the three-day charity tournament sponsored by the International Fire, Police & Military Winter Games.

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The Maine Event, Battle on Ice opens at 7:10 a.m. with a match between rivals Lewiston Police Department and Maine Fire, a team with firefighters from around Maine.

“We are back to defend our title,” Lewiston police Detective Jim Theiss said.

All teams will play daily in the round-robin event that ends with the championship game at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13.

Now in its third year, with a new look to its logo that includes the military branches, the International Fire, Police & Military Winter Games benefits the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston, known worldwide for its excellence and dedication to children.

Teams registered to date include Lewiston Police Department, Maine Fire, Maine Air National Guard, Maine Army National Guard, Third Watch Hockey, Sanford Police Department, Boston Fire Department and Somerville (Mass.) Police Department.

The top three teams will receive gold, silver and bronze medals, and the winning team will take home the new 2013 champion hockey trophy.

Tickets are $10 per day or $15 for a tournament pass. Children ages 12 and under attend for free. There will be commemorative T-shirts and other apparel for sale, along with the new logo hockey pucks with the tournament’s name.

Brenda Espinoza of Rumford, executive director for the event, said the mission of the winter games is to promote physical activity and have fun.

“My passion for the event grows stronger each year with our original six teams coming back and new ones joining,” she said. “It’s our small way of giving back to the heroes who protect us each and every day in our hometowns, around the country and abroad.”

She said she hopes to expand The Maine Event, Battle on Ice to include teams from other countries.

“As we grow so do our fundraising efforts,” Espinoza said. “Our first year in 2011, with the original six teams, we raised $1,000. In 2012 with seven teams we raised $1,900 and this year, with eight teams, we hope to raise at least $3,500.”

New this year is a silent auction that is posted on the organization’s website. Items will be presented at the three-day tournament, along with a 50/50 raffle to help meet the goal.

Anyone interested in donating items may call IFPMWG at (207) 357-5687.

Gritty’s Pub on Main Street in Auburn will sponsor the welcome party at 5 p.m. Friday. Pedro O’Hara’s on Main Street in Lewiston will host the championship party at 8:15 p.m. Sunday. All athletes, volunteers and spectators with tickets may attend.

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 that includes David Saphier, medical officer for Mexico and Dixfield fire departments; Jeffrey Clark, Maine State Police dispatcher; Theiss; Richard Jones, deputy chief of Mexico Fire Department; and Lou Doucet, retired from the Margate/Coconut Creek Fire Rescue in Margate, Fla.

For more information about the IFPMWG and team schedules, visit its website at www.ifpwg.com.

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