Written by Greg Wiseman
An estimated 1,400 people packed into the Northern Lights Palace on Sunday, February 10 to watch two football teams compete – in a hockey game.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders had a contingent of players lace-up the skates to take on players from the 2012 provincial champion Melfort Comet football team.
Chris Getzlaf, a slotback with the Roughriders turned forward for the hockey game, said coming out to events like this are enjoyable.
“It was lots of fun. You have all types of players on our team, guys that have played the game quite a bit and some not at all. It was a lot of fun in the dressing room and out on the ice,” he said after the game was done.
One of those players with no experience was running back Kory Sheets.
Although he and teammate linebacker Shomari Williams seemed to be tentative on the ice, they also seemed to be having a lot of fun playing a different sport.
For Sheets, playing hockey is something he has wanted to do for a long time.
“This was my first time playing hockey,” said Sheets who slid into the Melfort net and had that count as a goal.
“Growing up I wanted to play hockey, but this stuff (equipment) is expensive and we couldn’t afford it so I played football,” he said enjoying the feeling of the skates coming off his feet.
“I know people got a kick out of seeing me stumble around and acting foolish out there but it was fun,” he said with a big smile.
Comet quarterback Brett LeCuyer, who scored a hat trick in the game, said he wasn’t going to miss a chance to play in a game like this.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said after the game where the Riders won 10-8.
“It was unbelievable. You don’t expect to play against the Riders,” he said also smiling.
Curtis Puetz, a receiver with the Comets, said it took a while to get his hockey legs back after a bit of an absence from the game, but also had fun on the ice.
“Some of the Roughriders are pretty quick on their feet and some are a little slow so that made it fun.”
Also suiting up for the Riders was Melfort Atom player Grayson Rokochy and their goalie was Melfort’s Brad South.
Before the game the Riders spent a long while signing autographs for fans in the lobby of the Northern Lights Palace.
For the Roughrider players it is important to give back to the communities and fans that support them.
“The community comes out and supports us and doing games like this we can give back. Anytime we can do something like this I am all for it,” said Sheets.
“In Saskatchewan the fans here are unlike anything else, bigger than when I was in college.The fans here are amazing and I love that.”
Getzlaf echoed that sentiment.
“It is great, a way to get out to different areas of Saskatchewan. We know that we have support province wide and we know that we have the best fan support there is the whole CFL,” he said.
“Getting out and being able to interact with the people in those communities that support us it is a great way to give back.”
The game was a fundraiser for the Melfort Comet football program and although a final tally of funds raised was not available Comets’ head coach Dave Rogers was pleased with the turnout for he event.
“We had no idea what attendance would be. We hoped to put a lot of people in the arena. We know as everyone else does in the province that if you throw Saskatchewan Roughriders on something it is golden so we hoped it would be a good crowd today and we did.”
He thanked the community for being supportive and said events like this are not possible without help from a lot of people.
“The people who traditionally help me organize these games Michele Strube-Hauser and all the staff at MUCC are always great to help out at events. The officials were here and it is that kind of community spirit within our school that allows us to do things like this.”