Steamboat Springs Corey Fairbanks understands the game of hockey. For him it doesn’t matter if you play the game on skates, or on a sled. The most important thing is to get on the ice and hit somebody.
Weekend hockey happenings
Friday, March 27
• The doors for an exhibition sled hockey game featuring members of the Denver-based Colorado Avalanche sled hockey team and NHL Alumni playing on sleds will begin at 4 p.m. with a meet and greet. The game will be at 5 p.m. Tickets for the game are $5 and are available at Howelsen Ice Area and McKnights. They can also be found online at www.tickets.strin...
• Stars Partini fundraiser will take place at 7 p.m. at the Steamboat Grand Ballroom. Tickets are $60 and include free martinis, heavy hors d’oeuvres, dancing and a silent auction. Tickets are available at www.steamboatstar... or by calling 970-870-1950. This is a fundraiser for the STARS program in Steamboat Springs.
Saturday, March 28
• Alumni for the Detriot Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks will take the ice at the Howelsen Hill Ice Area to start warming up at 3:30 p.m. The game is expected to begin at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at Howelsen Ice Area and McKnights. They can also be found online at www.tickets.strin...
•A concert by Todd Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Strings Music Pavilion. Tickets are $75, $95 and $115 and can be found online at www.tickets.strin...
“I am so looking forward to getting on the ice with a Redwing or Blackhawk player and smashing them with a hit,” Fairbanks said, no doubt with a smile on his face.
Fairbanks was an athlete who played soccer, ran track and eventually played football at the colligate level with the University of Nebraska. But his life changed in 1990 at age 20 when he was paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident in Oregon.
After his accident, he said his involvement in the world of adaptive sports made a huge impact on his life and helped him with the recovery. He played tennis first, before discovering hockey.
“It was after I finished playing tennis…I got asked by a friend to come and try this new sport they were getting started called sled hockey,“ Fairbanks said. “It was my first day on the ice, and I got checked into the boards and had to have about 20 stitches. After that I was hooked.”
He kept playing the game as it grew in Colorado and around the country. This week, Fairbanks, the executive director of the Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation, will travel to Steamboat Springs with a group of sled hockey players to participate in an exhibition sled hockey game against alumni from the Detroit Redwings and Chicago Blackhawks. The game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at the Howelsen Ice Arena.
The game will be a chance for adaptive sled hockey players to showcase their sport against former National Hockey League players, who will be in sleds for this game.
“We will have eight players coming up to Steamboat Springs, and we will throw in a few extra sleds for the alumni players,” Fairbanks said. “This game should be a lot of fun.”
For Fairbanks, a longtime Avalanche fan, the game is a chance to get out and perform at a high level — to show the NHL players and spectators he and other members of the sled hockey team may be facing physical challenges but that doesn’t stop them from playing the game the right way.
The sled hockey exhibition is part of the Steamboat NHL Alumni Classic, which will take place March 27 and 28. The weekend is a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association and will feature a couple of hockey games, a concert and several auctions to raise money for youth hockey in general and the STARS programs.
The weekend will begin with a meet and greet at 4 p.m. Friday at the Howelsen Ice Arena where fans can meet the former NHL players and sled hockey players and have autographs signed. The sled hockey exhibition will follow at 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 for the game.
Following the game, organizer Kerry Shea is hoping that folks will buy a ticket to the annual Partini Party at the Steamboat Grand, which is a fundraiser for STARS and will take place later Friday evening.
On Saturday, the events will continue at the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena with the alumni benefit game. Shea said the doors for that game will open at 3 p.m., and he expects players to take the ice at around 3:30 p.m. The National Anthem and the game should begin at around 4 p.m.
Tickets to that contest, which features former members from the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, are $10. Former stars hitting the ice include Joe Kocur, Jiri Fischer, Dennis Hextall, Petr Klima and Eddie Mio of the Red Wings, and Jack O'Callahan, Reid Simpson, Peter Marsh, Phil Russell, Brian Noonan and Wayne Presley of the Blackhawks.
The day will end with an exclusive benefit and silent auction featuring Todd Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters at the Strings Music Pavilion, which will also serve as a fundraiser for local youth hockey.
“We had a really great chance to combine a couple of events and make this a great weekend program,” Kerry Shea said. “It should be a lot of fun for everyone.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966