June 23, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- With the event set for this Friday and rosters announced last week, all that's left to do is anxiously await Badgers hockey player and Hobey Baker award-winner Blake Geoffrion and some of his closest hockey friends taking the ice at LaBahn Arena for the Blake Geoffrion Hockey Classic, which will raise money to benefit the UW Health Burn Center.
The fundraiser is littered with current and former NHL players, looking to make a difference in the community they once called -- and, for some, still call -- home
"Hockey players are a tight-knit group, so I wasn't surprised that so many volunteered to play in the game. We're always willing to help each other out," Geoffrion said. "The fact that their participation will raise money for the Burn Center is icing on the cake."
The Red and White teams will both be captained by Madison natives, adding to the hometown camaraderie of the hockey classic. San Jose Sharks right wing Adam Burish will lead the Red Team, while Ryan Suter, all-star defenseman of the Minnesota Wild, will take the helm of the White Team.
Justin Shultz, following his second full season with the Edmonton Oilers, will anchor the Red Team defense. The former 43rd overall pick registered 11 goals and 22 assists in 74 games last season.
The White Team will feature current New York Rangers stars Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan. The duo led their team to a Stanley Cup Finals berth this past season.
McDonagh posted 17 points (four goals and 13 assists) in 25 postseason contests, while Stepan recorded five goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games.
Six players from last year's Big Ten tournament champion UW men's hockey team will participate in the game as well. Tyler Barnes, Jake McCabe, Michael Mersch and Mark Zengerle will join the Red Team.
Opting to forego his final year of eligibility, McCabe inked a deal with the Buffalo Sabres following the team's NCAA tournament loss to North Dakota and appeared in seven games, notching his first career NHL point, an assist, on April 13 against the New York Islanders.
McCabe captained Team USA to a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships before earning CCM American Hockey Coaches Association First-Team West All-American and first-team All-Big Ten nominations last season.
Mersch, a signee of the Los Angeles Kings, finished his Badgers career with 120 points (67 goals and 53 assists). A first team All-Big Ten and All-America honoree, the senior led the conference with 22 goals in all games and 12 in Big Ten play.
Barnes signed an Amateur Try Out contract as a free agent with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, a minor league affiliate of the NHL's Florida Panthers.
The White Team includes 2013-14 Badgers captain Frankie Simonelli and forward Jefferson Dahl.
Simonelli signed a Professional Try Out contract through next season with the Boston Bruins organization and will join the AHL's Providence Bruins, the top minor league affiliate for Boston.
Dahl is set to play next season with EHC Klostersee in Germany.
Contributing to the excitement of Friday night's fundraiser, fans will have the chance to participate in a silent auction and a chuck-a-puck contest.
Tickets are still available for the event and are priced at $15 for adults and $10 for youth (2-18) and seniors (55+). All proceeds will benefit the UW Health Burn Center.
Both season tickets and Hockey Classic tickets are available at the UW Athletic Ticket Office or on UWBadgers.com.
Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m.