Hockey Players Take to the Ice for Charity Tournament
Hockey players of all ages took to the ice for a tournament Sunday to raise awareness for an important cause.
YNN's Kate McGowan explains why even some Sabres players laced up their skates and joined in on the fun.
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CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- Young hockey lovers are happiest when they're out on the ice. But what makes them smile even more, is playing alongside their hockey role models.
"Anytime you can get those kids out on the ice, they're excited but I think today is a little bit more special with the alumni playing," said Sabres player, Thomas Vanek.
Hundreds of children and teens squared off on the ice Sunday for an all day hockey tournament. But it wasn't just the young participating.
"Different age groups from ten and twelve year olds, all the way up to 50 and 60 year olds," said an event organizer.
Even some hockey pros laced up their skates and broke out their sticks to play.
The tournament ended with a championship game, comprised of current Buffalo Sabres players and alumni.
Organizer, Michael Answeeney said, "It's a fun time, the entire day is a fun time."
A fun time but also a crucial day for Program for the Understanding of Childhood Concussion and Stroke or 'PUCCS' Association, a Western New York not for profit raising awareness for childhood strokes and concussions.
"We've got kids as young as eight years old who are suffering concussions and strokes, so there's a need," Answeeney said.
Those behind the effort said young athletes are at risk and all money raised through the tournament helps with increased medical research, and educational efforts.
Medical experts said when a child or teen is injured in a game, it's critical to not put them back in until doctors give the okay.
"Hockey is a dangerous sport because it's contact sport so I feel like a lot of people are getting hurt everyday playing it, so you need to raise money for that," said teen hockey player, Maddy McCartan.
Vanek said, "I think the awareness of concussions, it's getting more and more, which is important because it's a big part of the game nowadays."
Last year the event raised more than $150,000. Organizers hope to top that this year.