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A Matter of Pride: Heroes Hockey Game

For 50 years, the NYPD hockey team and the FDNY hockey team have faced off in the last game of the season. For 50 years, this rivalry has sparked joy for fans and raised thousands of dollars for charity. For 50 years, this matchup has been a way to see the first responders of New York City in a different light. The HEROES Hockey Game is an unrivaled rivalry, played with the same grit and courage these men bring to their jobs each and every day.

To mark this milestone anniversary, players from both teams from years past were invited to join the festivities, adding a powerful sense of history to the game. As a spectator, you get the sense that this game is meaningful, but as long-retired police officers and firefighters were introduced to the crowd and mingled in locker rooms wearing vintage hockey jerseys, it was easier to grasp the true impact.

But when I asked players why the game is so important, I quickly realized they treat this opportunity in much the same way they treat their profession; you show up and you serve. Like a slapshot from center ice, responses to that question were brief but powerful. Before a single puck is dropped, opening ceremonies catalogued the names of heroes that have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. The national anthem was performed by the daughter of a fallen officer and serviceman—she also happens to be a law enforcement officer herself. Oversized checks on behalf of various charities were gifted to grieving families, and the support of the sell-out crowd could be heard and felt.

For civilian admirers like myself, I can sum up this event in four words: more than a tradition.

For those playing or those watching that wake up every day, put on a badge, turnout gear or carry a jump bag and climb into patrol cars, firetrucks and ambulances, this is life. Saving lives and protecting the vulnerable IS how they have chosen to serve. So yes, this game is important. But this game doesn’t compare to their efforts on our behalves the other 364 days of the year.

The Bravest from FDNY were ultimately ahead when the final buzzer sounded. They skated out to an impressive early lead, only to see NYPD’s Finest come storming back to bring the match to within one goal. If there was no clock and no scoreboard, no fans or no frills, no written checks or hook checks, these men would have played just as hard and fought just as much. It’s a matter of pride and personality. That night they were hockey stars. Tomorrow? Back to being our heroes.

Tags: fdny, nypd, hockey

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