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Roller hockey game to benefit Rockaways hurricane victims

Alex Demetrakos (l.-r.), Austyn Henrich, his brothers Hoops and C.C., his father Tom, Harold Rodriguez, Alessandro Costantino, his father Anthony and Gabor Tali pose on the rink at George Harvey Park ahead of a charity game set for Saturday.
TimesLedger Newspapers

What started as a pick-up roller hockey game in College Point to raise a few bucks for hurricane victims has united scores of self-described “rink rats” in something larger, and in the process will give much-needed funds to organizations helping in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

More than 100 roller hockey players are set to descend onto George Harvey Park Saturday for Slapshot for Sandy, an event organized by a group of College Point coaches and players. Each of the roughly 80 adult players who have pre-registered to play will donate $20, though others are expected to show up. The funds will go to the American Red Cross, which is to be at the event, according to Thomas Henrich, one of the organizers.

Henrich and a group of adults from all over Queens play pick-up games at the park on a regular basis and decided they wanted to chip in after seeing the devastation unleashed by the storm.

“The way we looked at it was we are so lucky to even think about playing hockey,” he said. “We work 9-to-5 jobs killing ourselves, but we go to the rink every night because we love the game, and we are so lucky and blessed.”

Henrich and some of his friends toyed with the idea of having a game with the regulars at the rink, where each player put $20 into a hat. But the College Point father of three soon found out he would need a fairly large hat.

“This thing just accelerated,” he said Monday as he and the other organizers were making the final preparations for the event.

Using Facebook and word of mouth, news of the charity game spread throughout the roller hockey world. Henrich heard from a Connecticut group that planned to travel down to play at the park, and teams from College Point Roller Hockey, an organized league for children in the neighborhood, also committed to playing.

Henrich even heard from another group in the Rockaways that did not have a rink, he said.

A first-grade class at PS 129, which includes Henrich’s youngest son, is making posters for the event.

Manufacturers of hockey equipment are sponsoring the event, and the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church is collecting a list of items requested by Rockaway residents.

The list, according to Henrich, is a reminder of just how much Sandy destroyed.

“They are not asking for Lamborghinis, they are asking for baby food, feminine products — that is how bad things are down there,” he said.

But in order for the people to get the donated items and cash — which is what Mayor Michael Bloomberg and disaster relief organizations like the Red Cross have consistently said is the most effective way to help — the city had to do its part as well.

After the event began to grow, it became apparent that they would need a permit from the city — a permit that Henrich said usually takes at least a month to get — but the city Parks Department expedited the process in order to ensure the charity would go forward.

The event is set to run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., though a rain date for Dec. 8 has also been set. The park entrance is near the corner of 20th Avenue and the northbound Whitestone Expressway.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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Reader Feedback

Mark from Queens says:
Sounds like a great idea. I wonder if the Rangers are planning to contribute anything to this.
Nov. 29, 2012, 2:28 pm
Tom Henrich from College Point says:
We would like to thank everyone across the board for this event. Every single person, whether it was an agency, establishment, a player, or a person just walking by and donating a few dollars. We made a difference. We may not save the world but we didn't sit back and do nothing either. Our hockey brethren came together to help as much as we could.
Dec. 3, 2012, 6:15 am

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