11 days for a good cause

Record-setting game held in Buffalo

05.07.2017
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The players pose for a joint team photo after a hockey game that lasted 11 days. Photo: Bill Wippert

BUFFALO – It was 24 March 1936. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Montreal Maroons in the sixth overtime period, after nearly two hours of extra play. 81 years later, that game still stands as the longest in NHL history.

It cannot, however, even come close to what was witnessed at Harborcenter in Buffalo, New York, the secondary venue of the next IIHF World Junior Championship.

“It’s going to be gruelling. It’s going to be insane. It’s going to be inspirational.” That’s how the website of the 11-Day Power Play advertised the event: a record-breaking marathon game that definitely didn’t disappoint.

The 11-Day Power Play was a marathon game created by Mike and Amy Lesakowski. Amy is a breast cancer survivor, while Mike’s mother passed away last year after battling cancer.

The idea behind the 11-Day Power Play was to play the longest hockey game in history, while raising money for cancer research at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Mike’s goal was to raise $1 million. “That seems awfully lofty,” was the usual reaction that he experienced initially. However, his optimism was justified: 3,272 donors raised an incredible total of $1.2 million.

40 players were divided into two teams, Team White and Team Blue. The teams consisted mainly of recreational players, but also included former NHLer Michael Peca. They were mostly divided into seven-man units, each taking four-hour shifts, with breaks every 60 minutes. Four locker rooms at the Harborcenter were equipped with mattresses and bunk beds, food was provided by local restaurants. The players never left the facility during those 11 days. Obviously, the game had its fair share of injuries and illnesses, but in the end everyone was able to finish the game.

The game began on 22 June. On 3 July, after 10 days, 10 hours, 3 minutes and 21 seconds of play, it broke the record for longest hockey game of all times, previously set in 2015 in Saiker’s Acres in Canada. Team Blue defeated Team White with a score of 1725-1697. Kenny Corp was the leading goal scorer with a number that even Wayne Gretzky could only dream of: Team White’s forward scored 267 goals.

Now the full-length video and 50-page scoresheet will be submitted to Guinness for verification to be included in the World Records book. However, by the time the next edition will be published, the Lesakowskis may have already broken their own record.

Is there going to be an encore? “Definitely not going to say never,” says Mike. "The guys in Canada did it several times and they've raised a lot of money for similar good causes.”

ALFONSO MANCUSO

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