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Barn Burner charity hockey game ready to ignite tomorrow night

Star-studded lineup will include the high-flying Hughes and Suzuki brothers, as well as current and former NHLers

The plaid and denim jerseys have arrived and the lines have been drawn up.

That can only mean it's time for this year's big charity fundraising hockey game, which is marking its 12th year tomorrow night. 

The event, formerly known as Hockey Night In Barrie and which has been rebranded as the Boots and Hearts Barn Burner, will take place Wednesday night at the Barrie Molson Centre. Doors open at 6 p.m., with puck drop at 7 p.m.

Money raised at the event goes to the neonatal intensive care unit at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie, as well as the PIE Education program, Easter Seals, Canadian Mental Health Association, Kempenfelt and Barrie-Huronia Rotary Clubs.

Hosted by Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MP Alex Nuttall, the charity fundraiser has been raising money for more than a decade, but it's still a huge undertaking every year. Months of planning goes into the event, particularly trying to co-ordinate everyone's schedules, he said. 

"We have incredible talent this year and we're going to have something like 18 NHLers," Nuttal told BarrieToday on Tuesday. "It's going to be a quick game and a lot of fun." 

Some of the names highlighted by the local MP included former NHLers Mike Gartner and Gary Roberts, who will be in town for Wednesday night's game. 

"I remember playing NHL96 and NHL99 and these were always the guys I wanted on my team," Nuttall said with a laugh. 

There will also be some brother acts this year, including first-overall NHL pick Jack Hughes (New Jersey), and brothers Quinn (Vancouver) and Luke (University of Michigan). Barrie Colts forward Ryan Suzuki, a first-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, and his brother Nick, who's a Montreal Canadiens prospect, will also be lacing up the skates tomorrow night. 

"The Hughes brothers, to have them here reminds me of when we had a young Connor McDavid," Nuttall said. "It's so neat to see that happen and these guys are going to have incredible futures."

The game will also include NHLers such as James Neal (Edmonton), Josh Anderson (Columbus), Devin Shore (Anaheim), Garrett Wilson (Toronto) and Chris Tierney (Ottawa). Local natives James Hardie, an Innisfil native who plays for the OHL's Mississauga Steeheads, and Barrie native Matt Beleskey, who played almost 500 NHL games with Anaheim, Boston and the New York Rangers, will also be donning the plaid or denim. 

Numerous former Colts playing in the game will include Daniel Tkaczuk, Tanner Pearson, Kevin Labanc, Dylan Smoskowitz, Ben Harpur, Matt Brassard, Mackenzie Blackwood and Justin Scott, as well as coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk. Brandt Clarke, who was Barrie's first-round pick (fourth overall) in the OHL Priority Selection, will also be introduced to local fans for the first time when he hits the ice tomorrow night. 

Former local politician Patrick Brown, who is now mayor of Brampton and will also be back in town for this year's game, began the popular summer fundraiser back in 2008. Since then, it has raised more than $2 million for RVH, the Barrie Colts Community Fund and other local charities. 

Local musician Jason McCoy will perform at the intermission. 

Tickets range from $12 to $25 in advance, or $20 to $25 on game day. Click here for ticket information.   

It was announced in May that the Boots and Hearts Music Festival would become the presenting sponsor of the event, which has been rebranded as the Boots and Hearts Barn Burner. Burl’s Creek, which is hosting the Boots and Hearts country music festival this weekend, kicked in $50,000 for the event.

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Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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