The Boots and Hearts Barn Burner charity hockey game may have ended in a tie, but a packed house and several celebrities on hand made all of the charities winners.
The annual event, which has returned following the pandemic, attracted a sold-out crowd at Sadlon Arena on Wednesday night and the crowd was as loud as it has been in previous years as Team Denim and Team Plaid played a game that raised $155,000 for local charities, including Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH).
Former Barrie Colts star Andrew Mangiapane, who just re-signed with the Calgary Flames this week, told BarrieToday it was great to be back where he spent his Ontario Hockey League career.
“This is my home away from home,” Mangiapane said. “I spent many great years here and made a lot of friends. To be able to play in this fun event and know the money goes to great causes is the best feeling.”
One of the players on Team Plaid was Brampton mayor and well-known local politician Patrick Brown, who had previously organized the event when it was known as Hockey Night in Barrie, said he was glad to see the popular fundraiser is still going.
“This has always been an iconic event for the RVH and it's so nice to see it continue. Barrie was becoming known as this mecca for the charity hockey game with names like Connor McDavid, Ron MacLean, Steve Stamkos, and to see Alex (Nuttall) driving it even further is just a beautiful thing,” Brown said.
One of the loudest ovations from the capacity crowd was for 44-year-old David Ayres, who became famous for being the first emergency goalie to register a win.
On Feb. 22, 2020, Ayres was called on to tend the goal for the Carolina Hurricanes when their two regular netminders were unable to play in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
BarrieToday asked Ayres if making history that night helped him in giving back.
“I always say that anyone can play hockey, but don’t always get that platform to do great things," he said. "I now get to do things for great people and organizations. I had a kidney transplant when I was 27 and I feel this is exactly what I need to do to pay it forward.”
One of the main recipients of the funds raised was RVH's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).