Keene Ice was “absolutely electric,” graduate student and assistant captain of the KSC club hockey team Andrew Pierce said.
Bruins alumni and the Rink Services Group (RSG) All-Stars clashed for a good cause at Keene Ice on Sunday, Dec. 4.
The Boston Bruins Alumni team is an organization which consists of former, retired Bruins players such as Terry O’Reilly, Rick Middleton, Ray Bourque, RéJean “Reggie” Lemelin, Andrew Raycroft, Glen “Feather” Featherstone and many more. Their organization has raised more than $5 million for local charities and youth hockey programs.
Pierce and Kurt Mitchell, captain of the Owls ice hockey team, were the coaches for the RSG All-Star team. “I wasn’t expecting the big win because, you know, the Bruins are pretty good. Even though they’re old guys, they were still pretty good, so it was more of a social, fun atmosphere. I would say my goal for it was to meet some of the Bruins and have a fun time, try to make it enjoyable for everyone,” Mitchell said.
Peirce added that it was their first loss as coaches. “It was tough, but if we were going to lose to anybody, [it] might as well be the Bruins,” Pierce said.
There was a crowd of 800 to almost 1,000 spectators in the stands, people from the community to the little kids that the Keene State hockey team works with in their Learn to Play program. “I would say the community loved it; there was a huge turn out, “ Mitchell said.
Mitchell continued, “There was such a big turn out. Everyone seemed to love it. Who doesn’t want to go see a bunch of Bruins alumni? I think they would definitely do it again, even the RSG All-Stars. They all had a great time.”
For both Pierce and Mitchell, it was their chance to be on the other side of the ice. they were the two chosen to coach the RSG All-Star team. Assistant Coach for the Owls ice hockey team Bert Poirier was one of the players on the RSG All-Star team.
The RSG All-Star team is a group of former area high school and college players, many of whom were involved in fundraising for the rink. Poirer played alongside Leon Watkins, Mike Romeo, Chris McIntosh, Cam O’Brien, Jay Landry, Derek Klowak, Bob King, Chris Stroshine, John Parrelli, Nick Cote, Jonathan Poirier, Hutch Stone, Zach Southwell, Ian Galipeau, Isaac Jasinski, Raf Podniesinski, Jay Clarke and Gary McRae to make up the RSG All-Star team.
For Poirier, it was his second time playing against the Bruins Alumni. “I played and it was interesting, it really was. It was a lot of fun because the Bruins, for one thing, are so seasoned so it’s all about passing; it’s not about showing each other off, and we had a great group of guys on our side, guys who get it. There’s a certain etiquette when you do these benefits games. Nobody goes in hard, there’s no fighting, no stupidity and that kind of thing. It’s more of a showcase of talent, more so on the Bruins side because they have talent,” Poirier said.
Mitchell said it was a great time coaching Poirier and that it was his chance to give it all back.
“All the things that he yells at me for, I would just yell right back at him, so that was one of the highlights, I would say,” Mitchell said.
Poirier even said that the Keene Ice Board was amazed by Pierce and Mitchell, as well as the Bruins Alumni. “They had questions about the guys. They asked, ‘hey how’s the team?’ and I tell them we’re blessed. We’re blessed with good people who play a pretty good brand of hockey. They did a great job and looked the part,” Poirier said.
The Keene Ice Arena itself is owned by a company called Rink Services Group. The owner of that company is well-connected with the Bruins Alumni, and that’s how the game managed to get set up said Poirier. All the money that was raised was donated to Keene Ice. “The money goes right to the rink for programming as part of the overall budget, but primarily is going to be used for programming,” Poirier said. Poirier is also on the board for Keene Ice, so he is exposed to where the money goes and how the decisions are made to a certain extent.
Poirier talked about an “incredible” moment he had when kneeling on the ice alongside Rick Middleton, who ranks third of all time for the Boston Bruins goalscorers. “When we did a team picture along with the Bruins, we did it facing the crowd and I happened to be kneeling down next to Rick Middleton,” Poirier said.
He continued, “He said to me, ‘Hey, we do a lot of these just so you know, but this is one of the best crowds we’ve had in quite some time and kudos to whoever put this on and the facility itself,’ so he and I started talking, and it’s funny because our conversation continued after the game. We had a reception and I showed him our locker room and I told him about our college team and all that and he said, ‘You guys in Keene, New Hampshire, are first class” so that made me feel good and there were a lot of people there who wanted autographs. It was a proud community [and] civic moment for all of us who are a part of this. This really hit home.”
Shelby Iava can be contacted at Siava@kscequinox.com