Chris Nilan

Montreal Canadiens Alumni thrill fans at charity hockey game

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Usually when the home team loses a hockey game 18-7, there aren’t as many smiles in the arena.

Last Saturday night was an exception.

The Montreal Canadiens Alumni came to the Libro Centre and played against the Amherstburg Rotary team, the latter made up of area residents, business owners, town employees and first responders. The charity hockey game was organized by the Rotary Club of Amherstburg and was a fundraiser for Amherstburg Community Services (ACS).

The Amherstburg Rotary hockey team poses for a group photo with the Montreal Canadiens Alumni team following their Dec. 1 game at the Libro Centre. The Rotary Club of Amherstburg presented the game as a fundraiser for Amherstburg Community Services (ACS).

“It was an amazing night,” said Rotary Club president Joan Donaldson. “It was exciting. It was fun. I think everyone had a good time.”

Susanne Bergeron, another Rotarian who helped organize the event, estimated they had at least 20 volunteers helping out Saturday night.

“It was a big success,” added Donaldson. “It exceeded our expectations.”

Close to 700 tickets were sold, she added. The monetary amount being donated to ACS was not known as of press time.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo was happy with how things turned out.

“I think it’s very exciting,” she said. “I think it’s great for the town and the Rotary Club. It’s great for the town to support such a great event.”

The proceeds will go into ACS’ programming, she indicated.

“We will continue to expand and develop new programs,” said DiBartolomeo. “We’re very grateful that Rotary chose us as their designated charity.”

Montreal’s Guillaume Latendresse tucks the puck behind Amherstburg Rotary goalie Justin Rousseau.

Chris Nilan, one of the Montreal Canadiens Alumni that played in the game, said it is enjoyable to travel the country and raise money for charities.

“It’s a lot of fun to get together,” said Nilan. “We are all part of the Canadiens family.”

Nilan stated it’s nice to be able to get to smaller communities as a lot of fans may not get a chance to meet pro hockey players unless they travel to an NHL city. He said he had been to Windsor before but this was the first time he had been in the Amherstburg area, though noted he didn’t have a chance to see much of the town. He joked that “it’s another nice hockey rink” and that they saw a lot of farmland travelling from Windsor to Amherstburg.

Yvon Lambert, a Habs’ legend from the 1970’s and coach of the Alumni team, liked what he saw Saturday night.

Police chief Tim Berthiaume drops the puck for the ceremonial faceoff between Councillor Peter Courtney and Habs legend Chris Nilan.

“It’s always well organized. It’s a good cause,” said Lambert.

The Alumni tour gives the retired NHL stars a chance to get together, have a good weekend and have a few laughs all the while helping local charities, he added. Lambert said the Alumni has about 30 players or so on the roster with about 10-11 of them travelling at one time to cities and towns to play. It was his first time to Amherstburg as well, and he stated he was impressed with the Libro Centre and the community as a whole.

For more photos from the Dec. 1 charity hockey game, visit our Facebook photo album.