Big crowd for annual event at Tony Rose arena in Orangeville

March 25, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

The Orangeville Wolves took a break from their regular schedule to take on a team from Dufferin County Emergency Services for The Big Game at Tony Rose arena in Orangeville on Saturday, March 16.

The Wolves play a regular schedule through the hockey season and usually take on another league team for The Big Game fundraising event, but this year they decided shake things up and invited Emergency Services personnel including paramedics, and police officers to put together a team and battle it out on the ice.

The Orangeville Wolves is a non-profit organization geared to providing developmentally challenged children, youth and adults the opportunity to play hockey, regardless of their skating ability or hockey skills.

The goal is to give a sense of community involvement to individuals who in the past have only been able to watch from the sidelines.

“The Wolves are a special needs team. We have players that range in age from five years old to 55 years old,” explained Wolves team manager Eileen Warren. “We have children with autism, with Downs Syndrome, we have a whole spectrum of special needs. This is a team that gets together every Sunday and we teach sportsmanship, fun, we help with skating. All they want to do is play hockey.”

The idea of having a hockey team for special needs players started in Grand Ravine in Etobicoke, and the concept was brought to Orangeville around 20 years ago.

“We play every Sunday at 12 p.m. at the Alder Street arena, Warren explained. “We also have away games on Saturday. We play other teams from Durham, Grand Ravine, Mississauga, Brampton, and Barrie. All those centres that have special needs teams. Tonight we’re playing police and emergency services and this is usually one of our biggest fundraisers. It helps us raise money because we never say ‘no’ to a player. A lot of our players come from group home situations. This allows every player to play regardless of their financial situation. We never say no to anybody.”

The funds raised go towards the team’s biggest expense which is paying for ice time.

“It’s all volunteer and it’s all non profit,” Warren said. “This is an annual event – this is our eighth one. We wanted to switch it up and and play emergency services and get more community involvement.”

The players put on good show for the crowd.

“It was really good,” said Wolves forward, Matthew Ingram, after the game. “We played really well. Both teams were good. We did a good warm up.”

There were many other emergency personnel who turned out for the game as spectators to support the team as well as a lot of family and friends in the crowd.

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