The All Day Power Play is a 24-hour charity hockey event, but it has become a 365-day undertaking.
The sixth annual hockey marathon will run from 9 a.m. today to 9 a.m. Sunday at Cyclones Arena in Hudson. Approximately 60 men and women of all ages will play around the clock to raise money for Nashua Children's Home.
Bill Dwyer came up with the idea and soon joined forces with the other coordinators, Dave Walsh, Eric Ouellette and Paul Clark. The first five years of the All Day Power play raised more than $100,000 for NCH and it continues to grow every year.
"The first year we did it we finished and we said 'what do we do next?' We'd finish in August and start again in February of the next year and as each year has grown we've started to talk about the next year right when the previous (event) ends," Clark said. "As it's grown it has taken up more of our time in a good way because you're dreaming about what it can be, what it can do, what we need to change. It's constant conversation."
The hockey community has long been known for its big heart. Locally there are other charity-based hockey endeavors alongside the All Day Power Play such as the CHaD Battle of the Badges and autism awareness tournament The Chatter Cup.
"The motto we've taken on is, 'If you want something done, ask a hockey player,'" Clark said. "They have such big hearts and there is a special place in each of our hockey-playing hearts for kids and to do something for the sake of the other."
The ADPP strives to put faces and names to the charity event as well by having participating players tour the Nashua Children's Home.
"It wasn't until the tour of the NCH that I understood the goal wasn't just to be awake and making saves Sunday at 9 a.m., but to make a difference for those kids," said Paul Osgood, a goaltender from Enfield. "There was also Brandon, a child I met at the home playing floor hockey. Talking with him I learned that he had played hockey before and I put it in his ear that he should play with us. He stayed up the night before playing video games and was asleep outside the arena before dinner (but) he would make 9.a.m on his second attempt. Having him around and skating with the guys was an active reminder of why we all do this."
The event is also a valuable learning experience for younger players, many of whom are around the same age as the kids living at NCH.
"Any time I get tired or want to give up, I think about the relatively minuscule amount of pain I am in compared to what some of those kids have gone through and the challenges they still have to face, and that helps me to push on through the event and will certainly help me this year," said 18-year-old Ryan Peterson, who played goalie at Souhegan High of Amherst.
Tim Corcoran of Lawrence, Mass., has used the event to teach 15-year-old son Nick to be thankful for what he has. Two years ago, Nick subbed in and played for a while but could not make the entire event.
"Last year, he came prepared and had a goal of completing the first 12 hours. He made the whole 24," the elder Corcoran said. "Being on the ice with my son at 9 a.m on Sunday after skating for 24 hours was pretty emotional for me, and I can't wait to do it again this year, and every year that my body will let me."
That family bonding time has become a big part of the event. During the 24 hours there will be a father and son (or daughter) game as well as raffles and other events to include everyone beyond those wearing skates.
There are breaks in the 24 hours to resurface the ice and allow everyone a breather. But still, not all of the 60 or so players will make the entire 24 hours, but the camaraderie of the event often pushes players beyond the point where they might have been tempted to pack their hockey bag and head to bed.
"As the event enters the early hours of Sunday morning, much of it becomes a mental game. The camaraderie we have is what really helps push me through those last few skates.," said Ken Wilde of Hudson. "Sometimes, you are tempted to skip a shift or even an entire skate session, but as you see the locker room start to clear out, and everyone else dragging themselves on the ice, you just get up and go out with them. After all, they are just as tired and skated just as long and then you remember who you are doing this for."
And when that checkered flag is on the horizon, players seem to dig deep and find the final push.
"Come 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, knowing that we're all in the last game, finish line in sight — or in our case, final buzzer — words are no longer necessary," said Scott Sewade of Epsom. "We all seem to have as much energy in the last game as we did the first game."