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Hockey players strap on skates for Sandy storm relief

By Rebecca Henely

Hockey players of all ages strapped on their roller blades at George Harvey Park in Whitestone Saturday for a series of games to raise funds for Superstorm Sandy victims.

Organizer Anthony Constantino, of Whitestone, said Sunday around noon that the more than 100 players expected to raise more than $1,000, although they did not have a dollar amount by TimesLedger Newspapers’ Tuesday press time. The money is going to the Red Cross and the players also collected items for Holy Trinity Church, at 14-15 143rd St. in Whitestone, which is collecting supplies for distribution in the Rockaways.

“We want to thank everybody for coming out and supporting the cause,” said Harold Rodriguez of Bellerose, one of the event’s organizers.

The event, called “Slapshot for Sandy,” was the brainchild of College Point resident Thomas Henrich. He and other hockey players from the borough regularly play pick-up games and wanted to help residents who have been affected by the storm.

“I think it’s great. Those guys love hockey,” Henrich said of those who turned out for the event. “We’re here for a good cause.”

The event kicked off at 8:30 a.m. with a game played by kids 10 years old and younger, followed by another game for kids 15 and younger and then several games played by adults.

“The kids played early on,” Constantino said. “They were very happy.”

First-grade students from PS 129 also drew posters of hockey games lining the booth reading “Slapshot for Sandy Help.”

Jake Lanzer, 10, of Bayside, played in both the kids’ game and the juniors game and said he had fun.

“I feel like being a good person and helping people who are affected by Hurricane Sandy,” Lanzer said.

Grown-ups were required to give $20 for Sandy relief while kids played for free, although their parents or guardians often chipped in extra funds.

“The more people who came, the more money, the more people we can help,” Rodriguez said.

A number of hockey companies and organizations contributed items for the prizes the kids won during the first games. Some local businesses also donated refreshments for the event. Constantino said the biggest help came from the city Parks Department, which gave them the space on short notice and cleaned up the park in anticipation for the event.

Playing the games themselves was also a lot of fun, Constantino said.

“The competition is really good and it’s balanced out really well,” he said.

Henrich said his team ended up losing the first game they played, but that did not dampen his enthusiasm.

“We had fun,” Henrich said. “I was just happy to play with my friends.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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