Law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and other first responders will be taking part in a charity hockey match in Ashcroft on Jan. 11. The friendly rivalry started some time ago, as this picture — taken in the summer — suggests. (Photo credit: Submitted)

First responders charity hockey game promises great night of fun

Event celebrates ties between first responders and communities, will raise funds for a great cause

Given an opportunity to return some friendly trash talk to the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD), Ashcroft RCMP Cst. Chris Buckland decides to take the high road.

He’s talking to the Journal about the Ash-Creek First Responders Charity Hockey Game, coming up at Drylands Arena in Ashcroft on Jan. 11 (game starts at 6 p.m.). Buckland—who has been playing hockey for years, and grew up watching police department vs. firefighter games in Edmonton—knows that AVFD chief Josh White has told the Journal that “Chris Buckland came to the firefighters and asked to be educated on how to play hockey.” The closest he’ll come to a like-minded reply is “Some of the Ashcroft firefighters who have never played hockey have said they’ll come out.”

It was Buckland’s idea, in 2018, to stage a hockey game involving local first responders. “We needed to do something,” he says. “Not as a fundraiser, but to bring the community together.” It didn’t happen in 2019, but the idea was seized on by local first responder groups, who decided that January 2020 was the time to make it happen.

A date was set, and a Facebook page—Ash-Creek First Responders Charity Hockey Game—was set up, where a series of photographs and locally shot videos began appearing, laying out the (good-natured) rivalry between the AVFD and law enforcement.

White says that the hockey game will involve one team made up of law enforcement personnel, while the other will consist of AVFD firefighters. Members of the BC Ambulance Service, Emergency Support Services, and the Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department will also be on hand to lend support.

Admission will be by donation, with 100 per cent of the funds raised going to purchase combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. White says the aim is to provide the detectors to low income households in the area, and that the AVFD will be working with local community organizations to identify those who need the detectors.

“It’s obvious that these devices save lives, and there’s no reason for them not to be in everyone’s house. It’s been in the BC Building Code for years that new residences need to have a hard-wired smoke detector. These detectors will be battery-operated, with a 10-year active life.

“They have lithium-ion batteries, so once they’re opened they’ll last 10 years with minimal upkeep; you just have to keep them free from dust.”

He adds that recipients can either install them themselves, or ask the AVFD to install them in the house.

The hockey game will feature a raffle draw for various items that have been donated by local businesses, a 50/50 draw, and a puck toss, with the person whose puck lands closest to a target on the ice receiving half of the funds raised.

There will also be tickets on sale for a grand prize raffle featuring a small, original Honda 110cc motorcycle in mint condition. It was donated to the AVFD by longtime Ashcroft residents Bill and Heather Hacock, who wanted the department to use it raise funds for whatever they saw fit.

Both White and Buckland stress that in addition to raising funds for a good cause, the event celebrates the strong relationship between first responders and emergency services in the area.

READ MORE: Stronger together: first responders mosaic helps Ashcroft and Cache-Creek heal through art

“That relationship has brought our communities so close together,” says White. “The fire departments, BC Ambulance, RCMP, Emergency Support Services: we’re all brothers and sisters and we have each other’s backs. When it comes to getting things done they’re just an extraordinary group of professionals.”

Buckland says it’s going to be a fun event. “It’ll be a Harlem Globetrotters-style of game. It’ll be a way to get rid of the winter blues, something to bring everyone together so they can have a great time.”

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The challenge issued by the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department to local RCMP. (Photo credit: Submitted)

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