The concept of the Survivor Game started on the ice, and we didn’t even know it at the time. Two fierce competitors didn’t see eye to eye about a play on the ice and after the game there was still a lot of tension between the players. The next day Martin “the Dawg Father” Richardson told his player to call the other player and set things straight. After making the call to apologize, and reconcile their differences, the players continued to talk and realized they have a strong bond off the ice, they were both cancer survivors. It was during this call that the idea of the Survivor Game was born to celebrate those that fought for their lives, and won.
The first Survivor Game was played in 2012 at the Dawg Bowl Tournament. That first year we had about 18 players and had a fairly good crowd on hand to cheer on the competitors. The bond that was formed that day of the first Survivor Game is truly like no other. The friendships this game has formed have carried on still to this day.
The 2013 game grew to about 24 players and the best memory from this game was the ceremony to honor one of the inaugural Survivor Game players that had passed away a few months after the first Survivor Game was played. The emotions everyone felt on the ice that day when his widow dropped the puck and his son Jeff played in his fathers honor using his stick. Let’s just put it this way, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Kim McLeod, you will be missed. This was also the first year the stands were packed leaving standing room only to cheer on these heroes. Later on that year, the Colorado Avalanche approached Dawg Nation about playing another Survivor Game at the Pepsi Center to commemorate the Hockey Fights Cancer Night, and so another Survivor Game was born. What a blast it was to see these Survivors play on the big boy ice at Pepsi Center.
Last year’s game, 2014, was the best to date as the game grew to 32 players and Dawg Nation allowed Purple Heart recipients to join the game. For the first time we had celebrity coaches on the bench for each team, Pierre Turgeon and Derek Armstrong were behind each team bench, keeping the survivors in line. We also had a guest announcer, Peter McNab, of the Colorado Avalanche. We also continued the Pepsi Center Survivor Game as well.
The importance of the game has grown into something bigger than we all could have imagined. This year, Peter McNab and Kyle Keefe, also from the Colorado Avalanche, helped us shoot a PSA to bring light to how much this game means to it’s participants and Dawg Nation’s dream of getting a Survivor Game at the Winter Classic. Please take a minute and watch this video that honors the Survivor Game and it’s courageous participants.
The Survivor Game is for anyone that has had a life threatening illness or injury and is looking for camaraderie amongst other hockey players that have fought for their lives. If you would like to join us for this game, please contact Dawg Nation. We are looking forward to hearing from you.