5th annual Can/Am hockey game slated

  • Published
  • By Mike W. Ray
  • Tinker Public Affairs

The fifth annual 552nd Air Control Wing Can/Am Cup hockey game is set for March 22. The contest will be held at Blazers Ice Centre in south Oklahoma City, starting at 6 p.m.
The ice hockey game is intended to "support and strengthen the camaraderie between the 552 ACW and the Canadian AWACS Detachment" at Tinker Air Force Base, said Capt. James Behn, Chief of Current Operations in the 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron.

The game will pit the U.S. Air Force members of the 552 ACW against the members of the Canadian Detachment at Tinker AFB. The winner will claim bragging rights for a year.
The game "gives the players a chance to experience the collegiate/professional level, including locker rooms, fans, booths, autographs, etc.," said Staff Sgt. David McLean of the 964 AACS. "It also gives the fans a chance to get some exposure to local hockey on the base and in the metro area." Hockey is little publicized in Oklahoma "and we're trying to change that," the sergeant said.

Admission to the game will be free. Tickets to the event will be distributed, but only for informational purposes. "The ticket is just a reminder, providing information about the time and location of the game," Sergeant McLean said. Tickets will be available at the Gerrity Fitness and Sports Center, at First National Bank and Tinker Federal Credit Union, and in the command section of each squadron of the 552 ACW, Captain Behn indicated. A ticket is not required for admission to the game, the captain emphasized.
Blazers Ice Centre is located at 8000 S. I-35 Service Road, on the southeast side of I-35 south of I-240.

Off-ice attractions during this year's contest will include rides on a Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine, and a "shoot for the sub" contest.

Also planned is a "Sidney Crosby's dryer" shooting challenge for children. The event is named for the Pittsburg Penguins all-star professional hockey player who as a youngster practiced shooting pucks at a net in his parents' basement but often hit the family clothes-dryer situated to one side of the hockey net. The Sidney Crosby's Dryer at the Can/Am Cup game will be provided by the Oklahoma City Barons, an American Hockey League affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers team.

The Can/Am Cup was founded in 2009 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Component (now Detachment) partnership with the 552nd Air Control Wing, said Captain Behn, one of the three founders of the event.

Surprisingly, the Americans hold a 3-1 edge over the Canadians in the Can/Am Cup series (hockey is to Canadians what football is to Americans). The USAF prevailed in the maiden game in 2009, in the third game and again last year. The Canadians edged the Americans, 6-5, in a sudden-death overtime "shootout" in 2010.

The Tinker Hawks hockey club includes members of the Nordiques (Division 1, whose members are ex-professionals, college and AAA players, and sometimes Division 2 players); the Tinker "Beer" Hawks (Division 3 players); and the Tinker Hawks Assault (Division 4, comprised of players who are new to the game).

The Canadian Air Force has a separate team in Division 3. D1- and D2-level Canadians play with the Nordiques combined U.S./Canadian team, except in the Can/Am Cup contest.

The Tinker hockey teams pay their expenses entirely from their own pockets.