‘It does take a community’: Summit Hockey Classic exceeds fundraising goal by 20 percent; Beaver Run takes title | SummitDaily.com

‘It does take a community’: Summit Hockey Classic exceeds fundraising goal by 20 percent; Beaver Run takes title

It was a record-breaking year for the Summit Hockey Classic, as the 21st annual event — held to raise funds for Summit Youth Hockey — sold more tickets and recruited more sponsors than any previous year while also exceeding its fundraising goal of $50,000 by 20 percent.

"The best part of this event is the entire community coming together whether you are a hockey player or fan," said Summit Youth Hockey board member Juli Rathke who was in her first year co-chairing the event with Anna Dudick. "We had over 60 local sponsors, so that just kind of shows a huge community effort.

"What we hear from people the most," Rathke added, "is this is one of their favorite events of the year — because it is so different from everything else."

It was an example of small donations combining with hefty donations that added up to that extra $10,000 for Summit Youth Hockey, funds that will go toward scholarships for Summit Youth Hockey players. Rathke said 30 donors — from recent Summit Youth alum to those not involved with the program — combined to contribute the extra funds after Summit Youth Hockey conducted a "live ask" during the event's awards banquet.

"That really was, for me, it was the icing on the cake," Rathke said. "It's a true testament that it does take a community and the experiences youth sports provide for family and coaching really are important. When we did that ask, we did receive it because people believe in it.

"It was great," Rathke added, "we had former Summit Youth Hockey players, your 20-somethings, they were there and the ask — even $25 from them is going to add up. From kids straight out of college, because their experience as a youth in that program was impressionable enough they wanted to give back what they could."

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As for the competition during the 21st annual event, it was Beaver Run Resort that pulled away from Copper Mountain Resort for an 11-4 victory in Saturday evening's championship at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge, but only after a competitive contest where Team Copper Mountain resorted to pulling its goaltender, Wyatt Dickerson.

Beaver Run featured the following celebrity players: Kyle Quincey, a 12-year National Hockey League veteran with the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche; Peter Sejna, who played with the St. Louis Blues over four years; and Phil Crowe, who played from 1991 through 2004 in the AHL, IHL and CHL before finishing his career with the Colorado Eagles.

The championship Beaver Run team also included the following players, including several Summit County locals and current Summit Youth Hockey players: Goalie Reiker Edstrom, Jackie Koetteritz, Stacey Campbell, Sean Costello, Scott Grabham, Kodyu Goodwin, Ian McCluskie, Luke Bindbeutel, Matt Lope, Ben Stuckey, Andrew Ash, Billy Barto and Geoff Palmer.

Beaver Run Resort advanced to Saturday's championship game by defeating Vail Summit Orthopedics Friday evening while Copper Mountain Resort advanced to the final after defeating Peak One Surgery Center. Peak One Surgery Center defeated Vail Summit Orthopedics in Saturday evening's third-place game.

Reflecting on the weekend, Rathke said one of the special elements of this year's event was the ability to recruit former Colorado Avalanche star John-Michael Liles to play for Copper Mountain Resort Friday night. Liles helped Copper Mountain Resort to a win Friday night, though he wasn't able to stay for Saturday's championship.

But it's the ability to bring in a recently retired NHL defenseman like Liles — who retired after a final season with the Boston Bruins in 2016-17 — that separate this event from others, Rathke feels. That, while also providing Summit Youth Hockey players the chance to play alongside an Avalanche legend like Liles, who played with the team from 2003 to 2011, competing in 36 NHL playoff games along the way.

"Even though it's a benefit event, there is still a pretty high-level game of hockey," Rathke said. "And I think the people who do get to play in this high-level game enjoy the moments on the ice with the celebrities.

"They talk about it," she continued. "About having a faceoff against someone like Kyle Quincey or John-Michael, former Avalanche players, it's truly memorable for people who just play recreation hockey."

And through 21 years, it's also the positive experience the celebrities have in Breckenridge that enable Summit Youth Hockey to make the fundraising event bigger and better each year, as many of the former professional hockey players turn the event into a family vacation weekend, with their families staying at the Beaver Run Resort.

"With that connection," Rathke said, "we utilize their experience, and they kind of go back to their friends in their communities and say, 'Breckenridge is amazing.'"