Outdoor hockey players in Alberta break records, raise $1.8M for cancer research

SHERWOOD PARK, Alta. — The world's longest hockey game in Alberta broke multiple records this year.

Forty people took turns playing hockey on an outdoor rink near Edmonton during record cold temperatures 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Feb. 4.

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The teams, which were named Team Hope and Team Cure, hit the 252-hour mark at about 6 a.m. Monday to break their own Guinness World Record.

The final score of the game was 2,649 to 2,528 for Team Hope.

"It went amazing," Kate Gallagher, one of the event's organizers, said in an interview.

She said the seventh edition of the game has raised more than $1.8 million so far — higher than its $1.5 million goal — for cancer research at the University of Alberta.

The event, which had special rules this year to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, was first started in 2003 by eye doctor Brent Saik, who lost his father to cancer. He kept it going after his wife also died from the disease.

The game is always played on an outdoor rink on Saik's rural property near Sherwood Park, Alta.

Players, who were in an "NHL-style bubble," had to deal with an extreme cold weather warning that persisted for much of the 10 days.

Pucks were shattering as players passed them along the boards, skate blades broke in half, pieces of masks fell off as glue let go and goalie pads cracked in the bitter cold.

Temperatures dropped to between -40 C and -55 C with the wind chill at times.

"This was definitely the coldest game we've ever seen," said Gallagher. "It was all part of the adventure."

She said everyone powered through.

"The players were troupers. They were warriors," said Gallagher, who noted that they finished with sore bodies and blistered toes, but no major injuries.

She said the game received support from across North America this year.

"We had people watching the livestream from Florida and Michigan, and people donating from all over Canada and the U.S."

She said she even received a call from a man in Louisiana who wants to travel across the United States and Canada with his biker friends to help raise money when there's another game.

"The reach and the impact that the game had this year is beyond anything they've ever seen."

Gallagher said fundraising is not quite finished. A silent auction is open until Friday.

"We've got the world's longest game player paraphernalia," she said. "We've got the infamous shattered puck that has gone viral now, so we put that up for auction."

There's also a pink goalie stick, a jersey and a helmet — all of which have been signed by the players.

"We're saying $1.84 (million) and counting."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2021.

— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton

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