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February 04. 2014 10:21PM

Peterborough teacher ready to take on ex-Bruins players

PETERBOROUGH — Courtney McKay isn’t scared of a bunch of big guys wearing skates, even if they are former hockey players for the Boston Bruins.

On Sunday, she’ll square off against them at the 4th annual Boston Bruins Alumni Classic.

McKay, 25, an English teacher at ConVal High School in Peterborough, is also the coach of the 2-year-old girls varsity hockey team. Since she was 4-years-old, McKay has been playing hockey, a sport adored and encouraged by her father when she was growing up in Merrimack.

“It was a great way to spend time with my dad and my brother,” she said.

Crotched Mountain Wild

She played hockey throughout high school and at Plymouth State University. And now she’s playing as a member of the Crotched Mountain Wild, a team of employees and friends of the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield.

Each year, the Crotched Mountain Wild go head-to-head with former members of the Boston Bruins at the Sullivan Arena at St. Anselm College. This year, McKay and her teammates will face Rick Middleton, Brad Park, Reggie Lemelin, Bruce Shoebottom and other members of the Bruins alumni team.

McKay said she was invited to join in the fun by Geoff Garfinkle, who is director of the Crotched Mountain Accessible Recreation and Sports (CMARS) program, the father of one of her hockey players and a member of Crotched Mountain Wild.

“But I haven’t played a competitive game since September so I’m trying to get ready. We played against the ConVal boys hockey team last week so we’re getting there.”

Making sports accessible

Proceeds from the game help fund the CMARS program, which helps people with disabilities find ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Corey Kotz, 40, of Milford, suffers from multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair, but through CMARS he is able to ski with his 8-year-old son and will soon be able to shoot targets through the CMARS’ accessible shooting program.

CMARS also offers kayaking, snowboarding, cycling and hiking for those with disabilities. The proceeds from the game help make it possible for Kotz and others to take part in these activities, he said.

“This is the single most profitable fundraiser CMARS has,” said Kotz, who hasn’t missed a game yet. “It helps a lot of people.”

Garfinkle said that in the last three years, the annual games have raised $70,000 for adaptive equipment, scholarships to help those in need participate in CMARS programs and a broader array of offerings.

“This game is all about fun for the whole family, from watching Bruins’ legends skate the ice and compete against a local team, to joining in the fun between periods, to getting autographs from your favorite players,” said Garfinkle.

For Kotz, it’s a great way to watch “a good old-fashioned game of hockey.” And for McKay, it’s a challenge she can’t wait to meet.

“I’m very excited about this,” she said. “My dad actually played in an alumni game years ago, and I got to watch. It’s going to be a great game of hockey.”

The Boston Bruins Alumni Classic begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9. Tickets are $10 per person. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, go to cmf.org/tickets.

nfoster@newstote.com


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