Local hockey stars came together yesterday to play in the first ever Chicago Hockey Charity Classic. Big names such as Patrick Kane, Kendall Coyne, and Vinnie Hinostroza headlined the event where all proceeds went to the Special Olympics – Chicago chapter. The game was Team Hinostroza vs. Team Kane and consisted of two 25 minute halves with an intermission. Fans from all over packed the Fox Valley Ice Rink in Geneva, IL. It's not everyday one gets to witness Stanley Cup Champions such as Kane and Ian Cole playing in their local rink.
The mission at hand was to raise $100,000 for the Special Olympics and, by the end of the game, donations were at $139,000, even before taking into account the proceeds from the silent auction that had not taken place yet. We had the opportunity to catch up with some of the headliners to talk about how their off-seasons are going and how they learned about this special event.
Catching up with Kaner – Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane was all smiles during the event and in the press room. He heard about the game through his offseason skills coach, Brian Keane, who is the founder of Prodigy Hockey and helped create the Chicago Charity Hockey Classic. Kane was very motivated to participate as he admires the "passion and positive outlook on life" the kids and adults involved in the Special Olympics have. Kane has been working hard in the gym this summer with current teammates Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. When asked about what he, like Jonathan Toews, is working on his skills this summer, Kane commented:
"… you try to work up your body to a point where you feel comfortable going into the season; you try to get stronger. The season is so long and there's so many games, it's really tough to get those full work outs in… [I've] skated maybe 10 times already. We're out there with Brian Keane 2-3 times a week working on skills and feeling comfortable on your edges."
Kane also mentioned that with the return of Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, and the addition of Connor Murphy, the Blackhawks look good on paper but the team "needs to get on the ice and do it" to make sure they are playing at the level of hockey they know following their upsetting first round playoff exit.
She's Miss United States – Kendall Coyne
Kendall Coyne is no stranger to the Chicagoland hockey community. As a resident of Oak Lawn, just outside of Chicago, Coyne has put her skills to work as a 5-time World Champion with the U.S. Women's National Hockey Team by creating and running her own hockey clinic for girls in the state of Illinois. Coyne had much to say about the growth of hockey in Chicago.
"It's tremendous. As you can see here today, there are so many people here to support a cause but also to watch a good hockey game at the same time. A lot of that is attributed to the Blackhawks' success over the last few years and especially as a woman in the game, I see the number grow tremendously with little girls all over the ice rinks in Illinois."
With her most recent success – winning the World Championship back in April following a salary dispute – her most interesting quote was about the way her and the team felt going through the dispute and then winning the gold. "They always say put your money where your mouth is and that is exactly what we did – not a lot of money, but we did it."
Another year, another cup – Ian Cole
Fresh off back-to-back Stanley Cup wins with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ian Cole was back in skating action on Saturday for a good cause. With having his 2nd short summer in a row, Cole mentioned that he just started skating again this week, and that the Chicago Hockey Charity Classic was only his third time on the ice since the summer started. After two successful cup runs, one can't help but wonder if there is talks of a three-peat already amongst Penguins' fans and players. This is what Cole had to say about that:
"As soon as we won the 2nd one, people were saying lets go for 3. There's some short summers and there's a lot of built-up fatigue; you can definitely feel it in the 2nd year of the playoffs as opposed to the first year… but I think that if there's a team that can do it, I am very confident in our team. I am very confident in the guys that we have. I am very confident in the professionalism and maturity we have as a team and everyone is in great shape."
Keeping it Local – Vinnie Hinostroza
Born and raised in Illinois, Vinnie Hinostroza grew up watching Blackhawks game before he was drafted by that same team in 2012. Hinostroza did not think twice when being asked by Topher Scott from Prodigy Hockey to participate in this event as it is something that is close to his heart. Last season was Hinostroza's longest stint with the Blackhawks, scoring his first NHL goal before being sent down to the team's AHL affliate, the Rockford IceHogs. His offseason goal? "Getting a lot stronger; trying to do the right thing." It's notable that going into training camp, the Blackhawks are very forward-heavy. Hinostroza was asked about competing for a roster spot come opening night.
"Come in with confidence and try to prove myself. I felt like I wasn't always myself last year. [I] just want to come in and play my game as hard as I can."
The Chicago Charity Hockey Classic had an amazing turn-out and we can't thank them enough for letting us be a part of it. A big "thank you" as well to, Prodigy Hockey, Special Olympics Chicago, and the Chicago Steel for a superb event! We hope to see everyone again next year.