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Trash poised to take on NHL alums

Tim Mutrie

When the puck drops Saturday night in a benefit game pitting former NHL stars against the Aspen Trashmen, the local senior men’s team, expect a fast-paced, hard-hitting contest where no punches will be pulled.

The second annual “Big Time Hockey in a Small Mountain Town” event – a benefit for the valley nonprofit Neighbor to Neighbor – features former NHL stars such as Tony Tanti, Ron Duguay, Bob Nystrom, Terry O’Reilly and Ken “The Rat” Linseman.

“NHL Alumni games are usually set up to end in a spoof tie,” said Trashmen player Wily Manering, whose diamond and gem company Whitney Christine, LLC., is a main sponsor of the event along with Stars Memorabilia of Aspen. “The Aspen event is the only NHL alumni event where both teams are out to beat each other – for a charity, of course. So it should be one of the finest hockey games that anybody has ever witnessed to date in this city.”

“And everything’s going to go in this game,” he continued, “except for full, open-ice body checks.”

Last year, in the first annual game, the Trashmen skated to a 5-5 tie with the NHL Alumni team. The Trashmen, known simply as “The Trash,” play a competitive men’s league schedule (the team took third-place in the over-30 national championship last season) and boast a 15-3 record already this season.

“The NHL players who are coming have great hands, hundreds of years of NHL experience – and there are six Stanley Cup winners among them,” Manering said. “The Trash, on the other hand, have 8,000 feet and all the advantages that come with that.”

The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Aspen Ice Garden. Doors open for the event at 5:30 p.m., when a peewee hockey skills challenge is expected to begin. Tickets for the game, as well as other associated events, like the Youth Skills Clinic with NHL and Trash players Saturday morning, and a benefit dinner at the Hotel Jerome Friday night, are available at the Wheeler Box Office, or on the Internet at aspenhockeyclassic.com.

On Sunday, the weekend of festivities crescendo with the unveiling of the storied Stanley Cup, which will be arriving by private jet that morning for its first-ever visit to Aspen. The Cup will be available for public viewing from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Gondola Plaza at the base of Aspen Mountain.

“The Cup will probably be going for a ride to the top of Ajax to have a look at the Rocky Mountains,” Manering joked. “The Cup, we don’t believe, has ever been exposed to that.”

The coming of the Cup, and the NHL alumni game, are being orchestrated by the NHL Players Association, in coordination with NHL All-Star activities in Denver Feb. 2-4. Six of 14 players in the NHL Heroes game lineup for All-Star weekend will be playing in Aspen, Manering said.

“The NHL Players Association and the All-Stars alumni group are bringing a major-league cast to town,” Manering said. “They’ve really backed us on this project.”

Manering expects the event to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 for Neighbor to Neighbor, which supports more than 20 human service organizations in the valley, such as Roaring Fork Hospice, the Valley Partnership for Drug Prevention, the Buddy Program and local Mountain Rescue agencies.

“Make no bones about it,” Manering said. “Both teams are winning for charity, but each team also wants to win the hockey game too.”


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