Players from the New York City police and fire departments’ teams scuffle during the 45th annual Hockey Heroes match in 2018. Screenshot from YouTube.
New York City’s finest and bravest are battling for Big Apple bragging rights in the Hockey Heroes match on the night of Thursday, Sept. 9.
For the 47th year, hockey teams representing New York City’s fire and police departments take to the ice.
This year, a special ceremony at Madison Square Garden, the game’s venue, will honor personnel from both departments killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to an FDNY Hockey press release.
ESPN3 and the ESPN app will begin streaming the ceremony at 7:30 p.m. EST. ESPN2 will take over when the puck hits the ice 30 minutes later.
“What they’re doing on TV, they’re showing clips of 9/11, the planes hitting the towers,” Charlie Venticinque, a 16-year veteran of the NYPD and a member of its hockey team, told Coffee or Die Magazine. “You make sure to pinch yourself, you know, to make sure you remember why we’re actually playing the game.
“Not only are they commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but they are raising money for nonprofit organizations like the Ray Pfeifer Foundation and the PBA Widows and Children’s Fund.”
Things to know if you're joining us tonight for Hockey Heroes:
• Doors open at 6:30pm, event starts at 7:30pm.
— MSG (@TheGarden) September 9, 2021
The Ray Pfeifer Foundation aids 9/11 first responders struggling with medical needs that aren’t covered by insurance.
The PBA Widows and Children’s Fund helps widows, widowers, and eligible dependents of police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
The rink rivalry dates back to the first match in 1973. The firefighters won that one.
They also lead the series with 25 victories to the police department’s 18.
“We get along,” Venticinque said. “We respect them. They respect us. We respect what they do. They respect what we do.”
But when the puck drops?
“Once we are on that ice — for three hours tonight — there’s definitely a rivalry,” Venticinque said.
The teams couldn’t hold their annual Hockey Heroes match in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Strict precautions will be in place Thursday night.
The NYPD’s team took to social media to warn that kids between the ages of 4 and 11 will need to bring proof of negative COVID-19 tests to enter the arena. Masks are mandatory for that age group.
Attendees 12 or older must prove they received COVID-19 vaccinations more than two weeks ago.
“Remember these are the City’s rules, not ours,” the social media post reads.
Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.
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