In general, hockey players are cheerfully helpful.
That was the tone Friday as 11 Plymouth Whalers alumni played a round of golf at Brae Burn Golf Club in Plymouth before hitting the ice Saturday in the Third Whalers Alumni Game at Compuware Arena.
The Alumni Game is being billed as “Champions for a Hunger Free Summer”, with donations going to feed the hungry in association with Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.
Saturday’s event starts with an autograph session at 2 p.m. The puck drops at 4 p.m.
The Whalers are asking for a donation of 10 canned goods for admission. Tickets for $10 can be also purchased by calling the Compuware Arena box office at (734) 453-8400 or by going online to www.plymouthwhalers.com.
The admission admits fans to an autograph session with the alumni, which runs from 2:00-3:30 pm. A limit of two (2) items per wristband will be enforced. All fans have the option to purchase up to three wristbands.
A late addition to Saturday’s Alumni Game happened on Friday afternoon, when Jesse Boulerice – who played for the Whalers from 1995-98 – found a flight out of North Carolina and decided to play at the last minute.
Smiles and golf ruled things on Friday afternoon as the Whaler alums arrive at Brae Burn in typical fashion. Tyler Brown and Tyler Seguin (teammates from 2008-10) reported together, as did Ryan Hayes and Chris Terry (teammates from 2007-09). Although they came separately, goaltenders Matt Hackett and Bill Ruggerio quickly paired up on the golf course.
Jeff Gardiner, James Sheehan and J.D. Eaton – representing the first three years of the franchise when the Whalers played in Detroit as the Compuware Ambassadors and Jr. Red Wings while skating out of Cobo Arena and Joe Louis Arena – met up and played golf together.
Gardiner is an original member of the franchise, acquired in the 1990 OHL Expansion Draft from North Bay. He played two seasons in Detroit from 1990-92 as Pat Peake’s linemate, scoring 58 goals and 85 assists for 143 points over 121 games.
“I’m happy to be invited out here, to see some old friends and meet some of the newer guys,” Gardiner said. “My son is 13, so he’ll be in Heaven tomorrow meeting all the NHL guys. The Whalers are a first-class organization. I appreciate everything that is done for the alumni.”
After hockey, Gardiner used his OHL education package to graduate from the University of Windsor and is currently the Human Resources Manager at Tregaskiss in Windsor.
According to Gardiner, Saturday’s Alumni Game may be a battle of Youth vs. Experience.
“I was talking to JD and James and saying we are the older guys,” Gardiner explained. “We’re looking forward to it, but it’s going to be tough to keep up with the young guys.”
If you can’t attend the Alumni Game on Saturday, it will be broadcast on The New 88.1FM WSDP in Plymouth starting at 4:00 pm with Pete Krupsky and Sean Baligian on the call. Long distance listeners can hear the game online through The New 88.1FM website.