The Kenai Kings (over 35) Hockey Team wasn't quite up to the Oldtimers' Hockey Challenge Sunday at the Soldotna Sports Center, but about 1,000 area hockey fans were up for watching the Kings fail, and that made a winner out of Special Olympics of the Kenai Peninsula.
A group of NHL legends, including Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne, took on the Kings, a group of area hockey coaches and former high school, college and minor league players, with the proceeds going to benefit Special Olympics of the Kenai Peninsula.
The legends rolled to an 18-5 victory, keyed by a few names that should be familiar to hockey fans:
Dionne, who played in eight All-Star games, scored four goals on the evening. Dionne is the third highest scorer in NHL history.
"I'm 50 years old and I intend to play until I'm 70," Dionne told the crowd during the game.
Gary Nylund, who played with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders, also scored four goals for the legends.
Wayne Babych, who scored 54 goals during the 1980-81 NHL season, showed he still has the touch by recording a hat trick Sunday.
Bob Rouse, who played with five NHL teams and retired in 2000, also rung the Kings up for a hat trick.
Dave "Tiger" Williams, the NHL's all-time leader in penalty minutes, showed he has other skills, too, by notching a goal in the third period.
Mark Lofthouse, who played with the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings, potted two goals.
Ron Hoggarth, who was a referee in the NHL for 23 years and announced during Sunday's contest, forecasted the Kings' demise early.
"I have just one question," Hoggarth said. "Are you guys an over-35 team or an over-65 team?
"I watched you guys warm up. My quick words are, 'Don't quit your day job.'"
The Kings actually jumped on the board first, with captain Todd Braxling beating goalie Richard Brodeur, who played for the New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers, about two minutes into the game.
"Didn't you guys read the script?" Hoggarth asked the Kings after the tally.
After that, the positioning and skill of the legends took over, but not before Kings goalie Jesse Tubbs spent awhile standing on his head.
After Tubbs turned back flurry after flurry of legends' shots, Hoggarth suggested that Tubbs could find a job with the Vancouver Canucks.
However, that job offer was quickly rescinded as the legends finally solved Tubbs about six minutes into the game on a goal by Nylund. By the end of the first period, the legends had a 5-1 lead.
The legends continued to dominate in the second period, although Bruce Vadla of the Kings did slip through for an early goal on a pass by Kelly Keating. Frustrated with his team's play, Kings bench boss Brian McIntosh had his team clear off the ice for a group of pint-sized kid hockey players from the area.
"This is what hockey is all about," Hoggarth said as the kids skated onto the rink while high-fiving the legends.
The kids managed to get two goals on the legends, although they showed they needed to learn a little about hockey etiquette. When Brodeur dropped his stick while trying to fend off a rush by the kids, one of the juniors actually picked the stick up and gave it to Brodeur.
"I don't think I've ever seen that before," Hoggarth said.
With the help from the juniors, the Kings trailed 8-4 after two periods.
In the final period, the Legends put on an impressive show, notching 10 goals. The one Kings tally came from Brian Gabriel Sr., the head hockey coach at Kenai Central High School.
Gabriel Sr. converted a penalty shot on Brodeur using an oversized stick. He used the oversized stick since Brodeur requested an oversized puck -- because he claimed he couldn't see the normal-sized puck.
The evening included many things in addition to the hockey.
"It was an excellent show," said McIntosh, who organized the event.
Before the contest, and before the third period, figure skater Don Jackson performed with a grace and strength making it hard to believe he's 62 years old.
In 1962, Jackson performed the first triple lutz in competition, becoming the first Canadian male to win the World Championships. Jackson was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1977.
"It's sure really nice to help with Special Olympics," Jackson said. "It's a great cause."
The evening also included performances from area figure skaters and a $700 puck chuck.
Finally, clown extraordinaire Rick Cobban performed throughout the night. Since there were no checks or slap shots allowed, Cobban's frequent and awkward encounters with the seemingly invisible plexiglass assured that fans, who booed when it was announced there would be no checking, would still see plenty of bodies falling to the ice Sunday.
NHL Legends 18, Kenai Kings 5
Legends 5 3 10 -- 18
Kings 1 3 1 -- 5
First period -- 1. Kings, Todd Braxling, 2:54. 2. Legends, Gary Nylund, 5:45. 3. Legends, Bob Rouse, 6:15. 4. Legends, Wayne Babych (Russ Courtnall), 10:09. 5. Legends, Mark Lofthouse (Marcel Dionne), 14:06. 6. Wayne Babych, 16:12.
Second period -- 7. Kings, Bruce Vadla (Kelly Keating), 3:47. 8. Legends, Marcel Dionne, 4:03. 9. Legends, Gary Nylund, 5:49. 10. Kings, junior hockey goal, 13:28. 11. Kings, junior hockey goal, 14:55. 12. Legends, Marcel Dionne, 16:42.
Third period -- 13. Legends, Wayne Babych, 1:28; 14. Legends, Mark Lofthouse, 2:35. 15. Legends, Bob Rouse, 3:40. 16. Legends, Dave "Tiger" Williams, 4:35. 17. Legends, Bob Rouse, 6:23. 18. Legends, Marcel Dionne, 10:40. 19. Kings, Brian Gabriel Sr., 13:00; 20. Legends, Gary Mason, 14:30. 21. Legends, Marcel Dionne, 17:30. 22. Legends, Gary Nylund, 19:26. 23. Legends, Gary Nylund, 19:59.
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