When it comes to hockey rivalries, few are as intense as the one between Boston College and Boston University. So when the schools met for a game last week on the campus of BU, you knew the competition would be fierce.
BU won, 7-5. But this was one game were the score didn’t matter.
The inaugural Comm Ave Classic was about more than hockey. It was a fundraiser to benefit Compassionate Care ALS, which helps support individuals and their families affected by Amyotrophic Latreral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The event also included a silent auction, raffle, food, and an autograph session with the players.
More than $55,000 was raised for Compassionate Care ALS. Proceeds will help patients with ALS by offering emotional support and providing high quality medical equipment, said Ron Hoffman, the organization’s founder.
“This event is incredible, and it was born out of kindness and generosity from the organizers and players,” said John Frates.
Frates’ son Pete graduated from BC in 2007 and was the captain of the BC baseball team before being diagnosed with ALS. Pete was also a leader of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which became a social media phenomenon last year. After the challenge went viral, it raised more than $220 million for ALS research.
Pete was honored at the event, along with late BC sports information director Dick Kelly, late BC linebacker Ron Perryman, and Richard Armstrong.
Boston College grads Pat Mullane and Andrew Orpik worked hard to organize the event. Mullane explained that he played in a similar game in Darien, CT, and that gave him the idea for the Comm Ave Classic.
“When Dick Kelly passed away of ALS and Pete Frates was diagnosed, I knew there was no better time to organize the event and no better cause for the money to go to,” Mullane said.
“No one had ever done a BC-BU alumni hockey charity game before, and it was a good idea,” Orpik added.
Mullane and Orpik had help on the ice in the form of fellow alumni. The game featured BC and BU players, many of who are current or former NHL/AHL players. Special guests included NHL Hall of Famer and Boston Bruins legend Ray Bourque and former Harvard captain and Hobey Baker Award winner Lane McDonald.
Players included Calgary Flame Johnny Gaudreau, New York Ranger Kevin Hayes, and his brother Jimmy, who know plays for the Bruins. Rangers legend and BC alum Brian Leech also hit the ice.
“It’s great to play for a good cause,” said Charlie Coyle, a BU grad and a member of the Minnesota Wild. “Some of these guys who are older than me still got it.”
Coyle scored a hat trick in the game. But the result wasn’t really what mattered. It was that players, coaches, and fans from two rival schools came together to support a great cause.
“Many people believe that BC and BU hockey players do not like each other,” Orpik said with a smile and a laugh. “But most of us are actually friends.”
That spirit of friendship was on full display at the Comm Ave Classic.
Photos: John Quackenbos — Boston College