LEWISTON — It’s for charity, sure. But it’s still hockey.

The Colisee was host to all-day hockey Friday and there was no shortage of the ugliness hockey fans have come to love. The late checks, the high sticks, the elbows placed just so. These were cops playing against other cops, after all, and soldiers battling firefighters. They were raising money for children, yes, but that didn’t mean the spirit of competition was left behind.

“They take it real serious, no doubt about that,” Lou Doucet said while watching Maine firefighters taking on the NYPD Old Timers. “But everybody has a good time. It’s going to be a fun tournament.”

Doucet sits on the committee for the International Fire Police Military Winter Games. He was at the Colisee all day Friday and he’ll be there Saturday and Sunday, too. Eight games were played Friday and more than a dozen are coming up. Cops, Marines and firefighters will skate for the pride of their departments, and there’s no sign that anyone plans to go easy.

“It gets chippy,” said Chris Roy, a Bath man who was tasked with photographing the tournament. “It’s going to be a good weekend.”

The crowds were sparse Friday — organizers expect a much heavier turnout over the weekend — but those who showed up at the Colisee were hockey fans through and through. They whispered about the rivalries among police departments. Rumors were afloat that a few teams were stacked with ringers. There were old grudges waiting to be settled and there were high expectations.

“The team to beat will be the Lewiston PD,” Roy said. “They’re really good.”

Most of the skaters from the local police squad have been saying that all along, and so far they can back it up: Bright and early Friday, the LPD got the Winter Games off the ground by trouncing the Maine Air National Guard, 11-6.

“Some of the games have been close,” Roy said. “Some have been blowouts.”

And speaking of blowouts, at 4:20 p.m., the Maine Fire took to the ice to skate against the NYPD Old Timers, a classic confrontation between police and firefighters. For 10 minutes, it seemed like it might be a competitive game. Then Maine Fire put one in the net. They scored again a minute or so later and then the goals just kept coming. By the end of the first period, they were up 6-0 and it didn’t get much better for the New Yorkers.

“I like it,” said Nick Richard, a Lewiston man who had two brothers skating for Maine Fire. “They’ve picked up a few new guys since last year and they got together more often.”

It showed. By the third period, the firefighters still looked fresh while the skaters on the other side were dragging. In the stands, a pair of pretty blond women cheered quietly each time the NYPD scored. They only got to do it twice. The final score? Firefighters 12, NYPD 2.

According to Doucet, the Winter Games have been getting progressively larger in scope. Last year, eight teams participated. This year, there are an even dozen.

“Some of the new teams joined up after hearing about how much fun it is,” he said.

Fun? Sure. But always competitive.

On Sunday, the LPD will take on its counterpart from Sanford. Cop on cop is always a good show, but those in the know expect a little extra drama this time around.

Last year, the LPD played Sanford twice.

“Both games went to the shootout,” Roy said.

“Lewiston won one,” Doucet finished for him, “and Sanford won the other.”

That makes Sunday’s game a rubber match, with both teams hell-bent on winning and egos on the line.

That’s the great thing about tournament hockey: Only one team can win, even if it’s for charity.

In addition to hockey, the tournament will include a party at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Pedro O’Hara’s in Lewiston.

Tournament tickets are $10 for a single day or $15 for all three, with discounts for military personnel in uniform. Two dollars per ticket sold will be added to the police and fire donation to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston.

For schedule and other information, visit ifpwg.com.


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