Handing Out Assists

The streak stays alive as the Jamestown Area Lakers Sled Hockey Team downed the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

On Saturday, the two teams did battle in an annual exhibition game to help raise funds for the Lakers’ operating costs.

For the fifth straight year, the Lakers showed up the Sheriff’s Office by displaying their superior sled hockey skills. According to Steve Waite, who was sidelined and acting as the unofficial “coach” for the Sheriff’s Office, his team’s losses haven’t been for a lack of effort.

“It’s just for fun, but it’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “Usually I’m sore for two or three days after (a game), so it makes you appreciate what those kids are doing.”

This year, despite the best efforts of the Sheriff’s Office to stay competitive, the Lakers took the game by a wide margin – winning by a score of 15-3. After two quick goals from the Lakers early in the first period, the Sheriff’s Office answered with a goal of their own, bringing them within a goal. However, by the end of the first period, the score was 7-1 and the Lakers never looked back.

Even the addition of Richie Dunn, a former Buffalo Sabres defenseman, wasn’t enough keep the Sheriff’s Office in the game. According to Dunn, who made 483 National Hockey League appearances, there is always an adjustment period when it comes to sled hockey.

“This is about my third time (playing sled hockey), but I’m still getting used to it,” said Dunn. “You can’t compare with some of these kids that are out here – the way they wheel around on the ice, they’ll make you look foolish.”

He added: “I look at what’s going on with this (Lakers) organization, and it’s great. They’ve done a great job. They sent out a little pamphlet saying what they did last year, and it’s awesome. I’ve done a few of these over the years, and every time I’m asked to do something like this, I say, ‘Definitely.’ It’s worth it.”

According to Deputy Jeff Hover, the Lakers’ players pay no out-of-pocket costs to participate.

“There is no cost to the kids or their parents at all,” he said. “It’s all 100 percent funded. We’re hoping to make this (fundraiser) a bigger thing every year so every kid can play.”

The Lakers team was formed a decade ago, and was developed to give handicapped children the ability to play the sport using specially designed sleds. Despite the fact that participation in the Lakers program is cost-free, its operating costs are on the rise. These costs include equipment for players, starting at $450 each; specifically designed sleds at $600 each; and ice time, which currently costs $165 an hour.

This game was the second to be utilized as a fundraiser for the Lakers. Last year’s event was able to raise about $4,000 to cover the cost of ice time.

“It’s about $8,000 for ice (time) per year, so that helped to cover most of it,” said Rod Kolstee, coach for the Lakers.

The exhibition game took place from 5-7 p.m. There was also a Chinese auction and a 50/50 giveaway of $213. Additionally, local band The Porcelain Busdrivers played at Shawbucks in support of the fundraiser.