The Chicago Cougars will once again host an outdoor event on Thursday (January 11, 2018) and while the results of a United States Premier Hockey League contest and an exhibition match are still up in the air, the winner is obvious.
All funds raised through admission/donations, raffles, 50/50 draws and a couple of silent auctions will go directly to Leukemia Cancer research conducted at Ohio State University by Dr. Robert Baiocchi, MD, PhD – Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Division of Hematology and his team.
The first game will be a league contest between Premier Midwest-East Division rivals, the host Chicago Cougars and the Decatur Blazers. That game will take place at 3:30 and it is scheduled to be followed at about 6 p.m. with an exhibition contest between the Dells Ducks of the Midwest-West Division and ‘Guns ‘N Hoses, a men’s league team made up primarily of Policemen and Firefighters from the Crystal Lake, IL area.
While Cougar’s owner John Schwarz and John Tomkins, the team’s Business Relations manager have been primary figures in bringing the event back to the Windy City, they have worked closely with Ron Goossens, father of Bruno Goossens, a forward on the Dells Ducks as well as three other older siblings.
Oldest son Ronald is a Leukemia survivor having battled the disease in his 20’s and while he is more than a decade past it, the lifestyle effects are still being dealt with.
The family is summoning past experiences and courage to once again go to war with the disease as Ron’s daughter Tricia was recently diagnosed with the same disease and is scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant soon.
“My kids have struggled severely with this. To have to deal with it twice is really difficult” said Goossens in a recent telephone interview. This is an event that affects the entire family as well. Another son Joey, a member of the Guns ‘N Hoses team was the bone marrow donor for his older brother. “We feel the same about hockey as we do dealing with this. You don’t give up until the whistle. You never give up.”
The Cougars and Ducks are both part of the John Schwarz group of junior teams and raising funds to help members of its family is nothing new.
While there is officially no admission to enter the viewing area, there will instead be an “Admission/Donation” receptacle, said Tomkins who is also running the draws, for items such as signed photos of Craig Anderson and Ryan Dzingel, Chicago area natives and teammates on the Ottawa Senators and tickets to the Chicago Wolves.
Among the silent auction items will be a signed jersey donated by Anderson, a part owner of the Cougars and another person well-versed on what it takes to battle Cancer.
On the ice will be a pair of interesting contests:
First, the host Cougars will make its return to league play after a solid showing at the Midwest Showcase tournament just before Christmas. The first place (22-9-1) Cougars will entertain the fifth place (8-22-3) Blaze, coming off a rough weekend on home ice, dropping two of three against the visiting Motor City Hawks.
A win in the opener helped the Blaze snap a six-game losing streak, but despite scoring seven goals in the final two games, they came up short in both. The Blaze however are not to be taken lightly, armed with goaltending that can steal a win on any given night.
The nightcap will match the Dells Ducks who current six sixth (13-13-2) in the West Division who got an unexpected extension on its Christmas Break when the weather out east denied them an opportunity to play in the Showcase Event in Boston. Instead the Ducks will use this friendly, but competitive game against the Guns ‘N Hoses, a regular in a Crystal Lake Men’s League who also play charity events and play at a highly competitive level.
The pregame ceremony for the second game will include a ceremonial faceoff as Bruno Goossens of the Ducks faces off against brother Joey from Guns ‘N Hoses. Both will be wearing jerseys signed by all the players on their respective teams during the warm up. Tricia and Ronald Goossens will participate in the opening faceoff and will be presented with the signed jerseys.
Last season’s Outdoor event in Chicago was a thrilling entertaining contest between the Cougars and Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings. These games should be equally exciting.
If you are in the Windy City area, make the trip to MB Financial Park at Rosemont (5440 Park Pl. Rosemont, IL 60018), enjoy an afternoon and evening of exciting hockey, help a good cause and maybe walk away with a cool raffle prize.
If you can’t make the game, donations will be accepted for the charity via PayPal at www.tommysgift.org.