The Peninsula Micmacs defeated the Strawberry Lakers 6-5 Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center in the Memorial Hall of Fame Game, a hockey contest played to benefit the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association.
The Lakers jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period, but the Micmacs came right back to take a 4-2 lead after two periods.
In the third period, the Micmacs held a 6-4 lead when the Lakers scored with just over a minute remaining to set up a tense finish.
"They pulled their goalie and had us pinned the last 45 seconds," Micmacs coach Brian Gabriel Sr. said. "They had some real good chances, but they couldn't finish them."
Mark Hall, the event organizer, said the teams, made up of former junior, semipro and top high school players, were intentionally put together to provide a close game.
"At the end of the first period, there were barely 350 people there," Hall said. "At the end of the second it was 500, and by the end of the third it was like 700.
"It was like people were calling friends on their cell phones and saying, 'This is a hot game. You've got to get down here.' That doesn't happen if it's 10-1."
Hall said the money taken in at the gate was about $1,500. Travis Hall, who is Hall's son and a player with the Atlanta Falcons, pledged a donation to KPHA to match the gate receipts.
The proceeds will go to a fund that helps out young players participating in hockey.
Hall said the event was about more than the hockey game.
Sherry Morris, a local singer and songwriter, was supposed to perform but was sick, so her music was played from a CD. There also was a figure skating routine from the Denali Ice Club, a scrimmage by young KPHA players and a raffle including some items donated by Travis Hall.
Hall also said local radio personalities J.R. Kitchens and Dan Gensel kept up the holiday spirit with good announcing.
Both Gabriel Sr. and Hall said the event should continue to have a future in the community.
"I'd like to see it keep going, as long as it's a good brand of hockey," Gabriel Sr. said. "I'd like to see more people coming out to see it, and hopefully it will grow every year."
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