Ice Hockey Marathon Raises Money, Lifts Spirits

DIX HILLS, New York, September 18

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

Typically, shifts for players in the National Hockey League (NHL) last between 35 and 55 seconds. Due to the incredible toll the sport puts on the body, caused by skating, checking and fighting alike, players are usually off of the ice for more time than they are on it.

Earlier this month, though, James Flanagan and Robert Ingraham decided to throw that conventional wisdom aside and instead hosted a 24-hour hockey marathon at the Dix Hills Park Ice Rink, raising over $170,000 for three Long Island charities in the process.

From left: Former New York Ranger Stéphane Matteau, Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland, Mission Be Secretary Alissa Schwartz, former Ranger Brian Leetch, CEO of Mission Be Carin Winter, former Ranger Adam Graves and 11-year-old cancer patient Matt Pollini hold up a check for Mission Be, one of three charities to benefit from a 24-hour hockey marathon hosted at the Dix Hills Park Ice Rink Sept. 6-7.
From left: Former New York Ranger Stéphane Matteau, Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland, Mission Be Secretary Alissa Schwartz, former Ranger Brian Leetch, CEO of Mission Be Carin Winter, former Ranger Adam Graves and 11-year-old cancer patient Matt Pollini hold up a check for Mission Be, one of three charities to benefit from a 24-hour hockey marathon hosted at the Dix Hills Park Ice Rink Sept. 6-7.

“When I first began planning, this I thought, ‘If we could raise $100,000 I would be thrilled,’” Flanagan, a resident of Lloyd Harbor, said. “I couldn’t be more appreciative of the players and people who spent their time helping… It was massively successful.”

The money, which is still rolling in, Flanagan said, has been divvied up amongst FRIENNDS ($25,000), the North Shore Holiday House in Huntington ($35,000), and Mission Be in East Islip ($110,000).

“It was really important for us to get some publicity for the Holiday House, since a lot of people don’t know about us,” said Kathy Flanagan, a Holiday House board member who also noted that the money will be used to fund onsite repairs and a new playground. “Every penny we can get is helpful… It’s a great gift for us.”

As for the hockey, nearly 80 players arrived to the ice on Sept. 6 and split into six separate teams to play a total of 48 games in 24 hours.

Some of the games even featured some NHL talent – both current and former.

Former New York Rangers, and Stanley Cup champions, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and Stéphane Matteau made it out to support the cause and join in on the fun.

Current New Jersey Devils’ prospect – and son of Stéphane – Stefan Matteau also made his way out to the rink to participate.

Along with the NHL talent, local stars also shined.

Ingraham recruited players from Northport, while Flanagan brought in family members and his teammates from the Huntington Country Club.

Perhaps the biggest star of the night, though, was 11-year-old cancer patient Matt Pollini, who made the trip down to Dix Hills all the way from Maine.

“[Pollini] dropped the puck, laced up his skates and played… He’s a great hockey player,” Flanagan, 53, said of the 11-year-old, whose father, Peter is one of his business partners. “Beyond helping charities and causes, to be able to help one of our own was great… His family couldn’t have been more pleased with the generosity.”

Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland thanked Flanagan, Ingraham and all of the other participants for their time and contributions.

“It was a pleasure to support these great hockey players… [They] clearly had a fantastic time and the residents of Huntington were incredibly generous to these local charities,” Berland said. “I certainly hope they do it again.”

To that, Flanagan said he has already started talks in preparation for what would be the second-annual venture next year.

“As it was all playing out, it became more and more obvious that to just do this once would seem crazy,” said Flanagan, the U.S. financial services leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers – a professional services network which also had a team play in the marathon. “The people, the players, the charities, the volunteers – they all loved it… I’m going to meet with Graves to see how we can improve upon it, but the likelihood that we do it again is very high.”

Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills (Thursday, September 18, 2014;  A22)

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