ASPEN - "Hockey for Health" may seem like an oxymoron, notes Aspen Valley Hospital. After all, hockey is a sport fraught with injury.
However, the local hospital says it happens to have a pretty good group of hockey players, and they're taking on the Aspen Mother Puckers to promote safety, injury prevention and helmet use for all.
The hospital is sponsoring an exhibition hockey game at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Aspen Ice Garden pitting Team AVH against the Mother Puckers. A free public skate will take place from 6 to 7 p.m.
During intermissions, celebrity goalies - including hospital CEO Dave Ressler, Dr. Bill Rodman, Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland and Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo - will take turns in the net while attendees try to score goals.
"We wanted to get people's attention by doing something fun and unique," paramedic and event organizer Gabe Muething said in a prepared statement, "but our goal to promote safety and prevention is something we take seriously. Many of our patients are victims of trauma or accidents that could have been avoided, so anything we can do to increase awareness, prevent injury and save lives is well worth the effort."
"I'm not a hockey player, and I realize my participation probably represents poor judgment and potentially getting hurt myself," Ressler added in the statement. "I and my fellow guest goalies are taking a hit for the cause."
There is no charge for admission to the public skate or exhibition game, but a suggested $10 donation per person buys a dinner ticket; the menu features chili, salad, dessert and lemonade prepared by the hospital's Castle Creek Cafe.
Contributions will be used for the hospital's injury-prevention program and "Think First" injury-prevention education. Tips about safety and helmet use for all sports, helmet fittings and drawings for helmet giveaways also will take place during the event.