The Rangers do a lot of charity events over the course of a season, many of which feature Rangers alumni. As part of the team’s work to support youth hockey, there are alumni benefit hockey games all over the Tri-State area. This weekend, these games were taken to another level as the Rangers alumni played in the Inaugural Alumni Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Actually, the “Classic” was part of a two-game set, i.e., home and home contests against the Boston Bruins alumni. Fittingly, the Rangers alumni won one game and the Bruins won the other. Not so perfectly, the game that the Rangers’ alums won was in Waltham, Massachusetts. But even in losing the game at MSG on Sunday, the fans had lots to cheer about and bore witness to plenty of spectacular plays—including several that made me think that the player was itching for a PTO in Hartford.
Jay Wells, sporting a blond ponytail under a baseball cap, was excellent on D, as was Darius Kasparitis, who drew a penalty (embellished a bit), missed his penalty shot, and then got one goal on a pass from Colton Orr. Mike Richter, who skated as a forward, had an excellent takeaway and good pass during the game (but his helmet looked a bit too big for him though and at times covered part of his face). Amanda Kessel, who was recently named Ambassador Junior Rangers Girls Hockey (Junior Rangers Girls Hockey was created to help to alleviate the lack of gender specific options for female hockey players at the 11-14 age level), also participated on a Rangers’ forward line. Although she did not figure in any of the scoring, Kessel’s puckhandling was amazing—she sure showed why she was such an integral part of the US Women’s Hockey gold medal team. Finally, any review of the game would be incomplete, without mentioning the hero of the game in Massachusetts, Steve Valiquette. He really stonewalled the Bruins in Waltham and was also excellent at MSG on Sunday. But after playing a game the day before, he just could not move laterally quickly enough to stop a couple of the Bruins’ shots. But Valley still has a great glove and made several spectacular saves that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd. And, of course, the current MSG channel analyst gave a full breakdown of the game to all who would listen in his post-game press scrum.
The final score in the MSG game was 5-3, but more importantly, everybody had fun and New York area youth benefited. If you missed this game at MSG, there will be more benefit alumni games in local arenas later in the season. For more information, see https://www.nhl.com/rangers/community/rangers-assist.