Battle of the Badges supporting Special Olympics Feb. 15

Third annual event looking to reach $10k in funds

The third annual Battle of the Badges is set to take over Wetaskiwin’s Twin Arenas Feb. 15, and this year’s edition is set to be a grudge match.

Featuring Wetaskiwin’s fire department and law enforcement teams squaring off against each other, the game will be even more important this year as bragging rights are involved: each team has won a previous game.

Wetaskiwin Fire Department team captain Kyle Kinnunen, who plays forward, and Jim Jones, RCMP team captain, who also plays forward, said each team has one game marked in the “win” column and are looking forward to taking the lead this year.

Jones said the original idea for the Battle of the Badges game to benefit Wetaskiwin Special Olympics came from a conference he attended three years ago. The conference in Nashville, Tennessee featured law enforcement involvement in supporting Special Olympics. Jones said many felt more could be done for Special Olympics, and after a brainstorming session, a charity hockey game was chosen.

Two years ago Kinnunen said the RCMP’s goalie kept them in the game as police won 8-2, while last year the fire department got payback with a 6-4 win.

Hockey fans will get a chance to root on their fire department or police teams made up predominantly of people from the community, including Maskwacis.

This year, the charity event features lots of special guests and events. Kinunnen said retired NHL player and Wetaskiwin lad Marty Sonnenberg will be playing this year, and the game will also be opened with the national anthem sung by Edmonton Oilers singer Robert Clark.

Jones said he’s looking forward to having his son Zach playing on the police team.

The event will begin with a tailgate party from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Organizers noted Wetaskiwin Victim Services will be handling the barbecue, with tasty food donated by the local No Frills.

A silent auction to benefit Special Olympics will be held in the arena foyer, and lots of great items have already been donated by local businesses and individuals. ATCO has donated a barbecue grill, Sonnenberg has donated an NHL jersey and plenty of other items will be available too.

This year, the event will feature a licensed lounge for anyone who pays to attend the game. Of course, you must be 18 years of age to enjoy the lounge. Blindman Brewing of Lacombe gave organizers a very good deal on refreshments for the game.

Dyck Insurance of Wetaskiwin is the lead sponsor of the event, with Cam Dyck playing for the firefighters team.

The game is highlighted by trophy presentations. The main trophy for the winning team was donated by Get Promoted and will feature the winning team’s nameplate.

This year, a special tribute has been made to the late James Gilbert, a very well known local firefighter who passed away. Jones said Gilbert was very involved with Battle of the Badges, and the Gilbert trophy will be earned by the team that raises the most funds for Special Olympics. The trophy was donated by Kim Gilbert and family.

Kinunnen and Jones agreed the game is very competitive, as neither wants to give up bragging rights to the other team, so the entertainment value of the game will be high.

Battle of the Badges will take place at the Wetaskiwin Civic Centre Saturday, Feb. 15 with the puck drop at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by donation. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics.

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