By Andy Eide
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns averaged over 28 minutes of ice time during the Sharks run to the Western Conference finals this past spring. It was the highest amount per game in the NHL, but it pales in comparison to the ice time that local players logged Saturday. Over 130 people hit the ice at Sno-King Kirkland to play in the 24-hour Pucks for a Cure Hockey Marathon.
The puck dropped at midnight Saturday morning and ended 24 hours later in an event that organizers are hoping will raise $30,000 for Fred Hutch cancer research.
“The dogs are barking,” Christer Leusner said at about four o’clock in the afternoon, “I’m going to lie to them and tell them just three more hours.”
Local recreational player, and manager at a local plumbing wholesale company, Davd Mosbach organized the event. Mosbach, 50, has been playing hockey for 23 years and has organized small weekend tournaments locally in the past.
A fellow rec hockey player spoke to him about doing a 24-hour event to help with a friend of hers that was dealing with cancer and as the two spoke, the event grew and became bigger. Mosbach was able to find sponsors and then reached out to the Seattle area hockey community.
He was inspired by a friend of his, ‘Joe Mac’, who was diagnosed with brain cancer and recently endured a second surgery.
“I think everybody is impacted by cancer in one way or another,” Mosbach said. “There’s people that have passed on but there’s also people that we can still help.”
Mosbach secured the arena, thanks to help from Sno-King, and even offered the players a complimentary beer garden, donuts and pizza, along with a variety of door prizes donated by local sponsors.
This is the first year of the event, but it drew a diverse group of players from the region and beyond. There were players of all ages and skill level, all having a good time and pushing their endurance for charity, and fun.
Former Seattle Thunderbird, and long time NHL player, Jamie Huscroft was involved, as were Everett Silvertips players Wyatte Wylie and Dawson Butt. During one mid-day stretch, a mother and son goalie tandem squared off at opposite ends of the ice.
Donations were collected from player fees and several companies that matched their employees’ contributions. One such company is Microsoft and that caught the attention of Tajima Wills.
Wills, 37, grew up in Southern California and played Division 3 NCAA hockey before taking a job at Microsoft. She saw posters advertising the marathon and says the decision to play was easy.
“I just heard a lot of good things about (Fred Hutch) as a local organization,” she said. “There’s a lot of demand in my profession to do a lot of pro bono work. It’s always great when you can participate in fund raising that’s also your hobby, it’s a no brainer.”
She was part of a group that had banded together to play a three-hour shift during the day on Saturday. Most players were putting in about three hours but Mosbach added that other players ended up playing six hours or more over the course of the day.
Hockey is an exhausting game and normal games run less than two hours of straight clock time, but players probably only are on the ice for 20-minutes. Saturday was a new experience for sure.
“I’m already a game in, at least,” Paul Reining said Saturday afternoon. “Its warm outside. I spent the morning outside in the sun and I’m feeling it now.”
Reining, 43, works for Nintendo and started playing hockey at 3-years-old in Michigan, where he grew up. Like many of Saturday’s participants, he is a regular on the Seattle area rinks and jumped at the chance to play in the Pucks for the Cure event.
“We all have someone we know that cancer has touched,” he said. “My sister-in-law has stage four breast cancer and I’ve seen what she’s gone through. Any way that we can help support family, friends, anyone we know. The hockey guys are just great guys to hang out with. It’s fun to do and a great cause.”
Mosbach was able to draw players from around the region, including a contingent from Bellingham that were coming down to put their time on the ice in.
Leusner may have travelled the farthest.
After graduating from Western Washington University, he would eventually move to Pittsburgh so his wife could attend school. He made a lot of hockey friends back in Seattle and was able to schedule some vacation around Saturday’s event.
“I keep in touch with a lot of these people by coming to a lot of these tournaments,” he said. “Dave always does a great job and it brings out a diverse group of people. I knew there were going to be a lot of great people here and it’s a good cause. I was happy to come out.”
Playing and organizing a 24-hour hockey game is a taxing event and Mosbach said that he planned ahead by taking Monday off work to recover from what he called his ‘Jerry Lewis impression’.
With the first 24-hour marathon now in the books, Mosbach is already looking forward to doing it again next year.
“I’ve already thought of ways to improve it and make it better,” he said. “I think next year I can improve upon it. It’s my way of giving back to the game a little bit, and the community. There’s a lot of great people in the hockey community so I want to keep it going.”
Donations to Fred Hutch are still being accepted through Mosbach’s web page found here.