11-Day Power Play Makes a Difference

In the course of a National Hockey League, a player will typically skate for anywhere from five to 25 minutes, with the occasional exception. Those minutes will be spread out over the 60-minute-long game, broken up into periods with a pair of 17-minute intermissions between.

Those players are professionals; they get paid to play, and train year-long to keep their bodies in top shape. When the final buzzer sounds after 60 minutes, they enjoy a meal, then go home to spend time with their families, rest, and relax.

The 11-Day Power Play was a hockey game… but it was nothing like that. This world-record breaking feat saw a group of 40 guys train for months to spend 11 straight days at the rink. Their shifts were roughly four and a half hours long, with only brief, strict 10-minute breaks for the Zamboni to resurface the ice or shovels to clean the ice every hour.

At the end of that grueling shift, the guys retreated to their locker rooms, some of which were made into makeshift dorms. Mattresses were donated and strewn out, covered with tarps to shield the motion-sensor lights. As part of the world record attempt, the players could not leave the building – so they had to eat, sleep and breathe there.

Aside from the rink, the training/medical rooms, and the makeshift dorms, their one source of respite may have been the makeshift ‘lounge’ they created in the parking ramp. A section of the parking ramp, five stories above ground-level and one floor below the rink, was blocked off. Lawn chairs, games and a fridge were among the amenities available for players in their off-time.

Every player had at least one 4.5-hour shift in goal, to keep things fair and give players a break.

This group of seemingly-random guys from the Buffalo area donated their time, their bodies, and their minds for the cause: raising money for cancer research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Their initial goal of $1 million was shattered before the puck even dropped on June 20. In the end, they raised over $1.2 million.

At 7:04 a.m. on July 3, those 40 men became Guiness World Record holders for the world’s longest continuous hockey game. They played for about 30 minutes past the record, then celebrated by popping bottles of champagne and cracking open beer cans on the ice. There was even a trophy made for them to raise over their heads in triumph.

It couldn’t have been done without an incredible team of people behind them. HARBORCENTER donated the rink time & continously had staff on hand to resurface the ice, shovel, keep score, etc. Excelsior Orthopedics provided medical attention throughout the course of the event. Chef’s Restaurant donated all the meals. Xtreme Mattress Warehouse donated the mattresses. A crew of volunteers staffed donation and merchandise tables, welcomed visitors and kept things in line. A number of musical artists performed over the 11 days. The Buffalo Sabres also acted as the presenting sponsor.

Friends, family members, tourists, and supporters showed up at all hours – yes, even 3 a.m. – to cheer the guys on. And through it all – they did it. I give these guys SO much credit for what they did. I was there for the opening ceremonies, for the first puck drop, and for the last. I also got to see the event at various times throughout the course of it. I’m so glad I got to see it, got to be there for the moment they broke the world record. The moment the buzzer FINALLY sounded.

I can’t imagine how good it will feel for those guys to finally leave the rink, to see their families, to go home, to sleep. I’m sure it’ll be an adjustment for many of them, who will have to return to normal 9-to-5 routines after spending 11 days sleeping at odd hours, sometimes playing hockey until 5 a.m., and living, quite literally, at the rink. You could tell by the atmosphere on the ice when all was said & done that they’ve become a family.

After over 250 hours, Team Blue took the game, beating Team White by a score of 1725-1697.

But the score isn’t what matters most. It’s the funds raised for crucial cancer research at Roswell Park, the nation’s first cancer center and a world leader in research in the fight against cancer, that will really make a difference for so many people for years to come.

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