Ryan Gordon Hockey Night draws crowds, raises over $10,000 to benefit Team Tobati

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On Friday Jan. 10, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Kingswood Oxford played the King School for this year’s Ryan Gordon Hockey Night. Although they suffered a 4-2 loss, the Wyverns played hard for the largest crowd since moving the event off-campus, as well as raised over $10,000 for Team Tobati. 

Spanish teacher and Team Tobati founder Ronald Garcia said this was one of the biggest turnouts he’s seen. “This was, I thought, the biggest crowd that we’ve had since we’ve moved off campus,” he said. “We sold all of our shirts, and I ordered more than we normally do so I was surprised by how big Hockey Night has become.”

Senior Co-captain Shane Dawson scored both goals for KO, while senior goalie Co-captain John McLaughlin came away with 30 saves. Both Co-captains said they agreed that despite the loss, the team’s effort and the support of the crowd made the night worthwhile. Shane said that the crowd is his favorite aspect of Hockey Night. “It’s the whole school, teachers, Middle and Upper School too,” he said. 

John said he agreed the crowd is a big part of what makes Hockey Night fun. “I think just having people there reacting to all the big plays and everything that happens in the game is always really exciting,” he said.

Although the high energy of the crowd is what makes Hockey Night fun for both players and spectators, both Co-captains said their strategy was to focus on the game itself. “We know from experience that it’s typically better to play Hockey Night as if it’s just another game,” John said. “So that’s kind of the mentality going in, trying to put aside the audience as much as possible and just go out there and do our thing.”

Hockey Night isn’t just for entertainment, it’s also a big fundraiser for the Team Tobati service trip in March. This year’s Hockey Night proceeds will go towards building a kitchen for a grade school. “They use the kitchen to cook lunch for the kids,” Mr. Garcia said. “So that’s a project that we’re doing this March so all the Hockey Night money will go towards that project.”

Both Shane and John said they feel that helping Team Tobati is the most important aspect of the night. “The cause that it supports is still at the core, so I’m happy that that hasn’t fallen to the wayside and everyone recognizes that that’s the true purpose of the night,” John said.

Hockey Night began in 2000 when John Riley, a former math teacher and boys hockey coach at the time, went with Team Tobati and decided to get the hockey team involved. “He went on the trip and he wanted to do something to help raise money, so his idea was to make a big hockey game and so that’s where hockey night started,” Mr. Garcia said. 

Before the rink became the Hoffman Field House, Hockey Night included four games in total, including the boys and girls hockey teams as well as a Middle School team. Despite a great turnout, Mr. Garcia said the moving of Hockey Night has certainly changed the nature of the event. “We’d get the whole school so people would come for at least a little while,” he said. “So now it’s just a lot harder, so we get less people, but still a lot, which I’m surprised by how we’ve been able to build it back up,” he said.

Hockey Night is in honor of former KO student Ryan Gordon ’05, who passed away in 2006 from a medical condition. One of his many passions while at KO was managing the hockey team. His parents, Barry and Phyliss Gordon, have attended every Hockey Night since its founding, and this year they did the ceremonial puck drop. “Ryan Gordon’s parents really love seeing all the kids in the shirts that have their son’s name,” Mr. Garcia said. “They love Hockey Night.”

Despite the score, the enthusiastic crowd and the fundraiser for a good cause made for another successful Hockey Night.