If you find yourself in the Middletown, New Jersey area on Sunday, August 7, you might want to head over to the Middletown Ice World rink for the second annual Asbury Park Press All-Star Hockey Classic.
The event will feature the best hockey players from Monmouth County versus the best from Ocean County. The best part of the event – which is sponsored in part by the New Jersey Devils – is that partial proceeds from ticket sales (which are $10 at www.tickets.app.com/app-hockey-classic/preview and available at the rink on the day of the game) and commemorative t-shirt sales goes to the Brick Stars Challenger Hockey Program.
As mentioned in an article in today’s Asbury Park Press sports section by Chris Rotolo, former Devils captain Bruce Driver will be on hand to drop the ceremonial face-off puck and meet fans as well as sign autographs. Driver, a defenseman on the 1995 Stanley Cup team, has been extremely active with the Devils Alumni Association and in charitable causes across the state of New Jersey.
Driver, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 1981 and would make his NHL debut with the Devils after the franchise’s shift to East Rutherford, New Jersey, discussed with Rotolo the reasons for the recent hockey boom in the state. Many New Jersey born and trained players now make it from high school to the NCAA level (something close to Driver’s – a native of Toronto – heart, as he played hockey at the University of Wisconsin where he won two NCAA championships with the Badgers in 1981 and 1983 and, according to Rotolo, was “named to the NCAA’s 50th Anniversary All-Star Team in 1997”), the major junior level and, of course, to the NHL.
Driver, who now coaches the Morristown-Beard High School girls hockey team and lives in Montville, feels that the Devils moving to New Jersey back in the 1980’s was just a piece of the puzzle. He mentioned that Jim Dowd, a native of Brick, New Jersey, who would go on to have a solid NHL career, including winning the Cup with the Devils in 1995, making it was something for Garden State hockey players to look at and see that the dream of an NHL career was not as daunting as it would initially seem From there it snowballed as more players followed in his footsteps and more New Jersey hockey players were playing in the NHL.
Two of those New Jersey-born players, James and Trevor van Riemsdyk have contributed signed jerseys to be auctioned off along with signed Devils memorabilia (all proceeds from the gift raffle will go to the Brick Stars).
The event will take place on August 7, with doors opening at 2 PM and puck drop at 4 PM.
All info comes from Chris Rotolo of the Asbury Park Press. He can be followed on Twitter at @ROTE7123.