A Stirling opportunity | AspenTimes.com

A Stirling opportunity

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Its the chance of a lifetime for the Aspen High seniors returning from last years state- championship hockey team. Or at least it sounds like it. After facing off against the likes of former Avalanche right winger Claude Lemieux ESPNs No. 1 Most Hated Player of All Time next Saturday night, the Skiers seniors might have second thoughts about playing for the Aspen side in this years annual NHL alumni game for charity at Lewis Ice Arena.Im actually not too nervous, just more excited really, said Aspen senior Tyler Moore, one of 11 Skiers seniors invited to play for the local Aspen Leafs in the fifth annual game. I dont really get nerves. I think its going to be a lot of fun. Its the first time organizers have asked current high school players to join the game with the Leafs, a local mens league team consisting of former college and junior hockey players. Instead of holding the charity game on Super Bowl weekend as in years past, local organizers decided to join forces with another local charity the Stirling Cup golf tournament for a weekend of hockey, golf and hobnobbing with some former NHL stars. The Stirling Cup is named in memory of Stirling Cooper, a local mortgage banker and outdoor enthusiast who died in a canyoneering accident in Utah in 1999. One of Coopers two sons, Matt, was one of the senior leaders last year for the Skiers, who claimed the schools first state hockey title. The proceeds from the weekend will benefit three local charities for youth: Aspen Junior Hockey, the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and Aspen United Soccer. Were good friends with Stirlings wife, Jody, and the Coopers are a hockey family, so it just made sense to join forces with them, said Wiley Mannering, who with his sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Greg Hills, has organized the past five local NHL alumni games. Theyve both been really successful charities. The golf tournament is already full. There are 32 teams, with five players per team. And well fill the ARC for the hockey game. Weve already raised more than $150,000 so far.

The roster of former NHL players coming to Aspen includes Lemieux and a number of other names familiar to Avs fans, including Uwe Krupp and Valerie Kamensky. Mannering said the NHL players love coming to Aspen because its one of the only truly competitive charity games out there. A lot of [charity] games around the country are full of celebrities, and [fans] like those types of games in places like Fargo, N.D., because they usually dont get celebrities there, like we do in Aspen, he said. Were going to have a competitive game, so we brought in guys who want to play hockey. Its 100 percent competitive, and as the home team, were playing to win. So, too, will the NHL team, a fact not lost on Moore and Aspen High teammate Ricky Frias. You know, its really hard to say what to expect, Frias said. Obviously weve never been involved in anything like this, so its hard to say. Were going to go out and try our hardest and try to be as competitive as possible. I think there will be some serious competition, but it will all be with smiles and laughs, Moore added. People will want to win. The weekend begins with an NHL Celebrity Shootout at the Aspen Golf Club at 3 p.m. Sept. 29, then the hockey game at 7 at the ARC. The golf tournament begins at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Aspen Golf Club. For tickets, sponsorship opportunities and any other information about the weekend, check out http://www.stirlingcup.com. Nate Petersons e-mail is npeterson@aspentimes.com.

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