PEMBROKE — Jacqui Parker is no stranger to playing with the boys.
The former four-year starting goaltender for the New England College women's ice hockey team grew up playing youth hockey in a boys' program and continued playing with many of them at Keene High School.
Now an officer with the Pembroke Police Department, Parker will demonstrate her athletic prowess with many of her male police counterparts when she starts in net today against a team of New Hampshire firefighters in the 2014 CHaD Battle of the Badges Hockey Championship.
The puck drops at 5 p.m. at Manchester's Verizon Wireless Arena .
“I love being out there with the guys, showing them what I've got,” said Parker, though she admitted she may be more nervous about the venue than her teammates and opponents.
“I've played in front of large audiences before,” she said, “but I don't know if I've ever played in front of nearly 10,000 people.”
To play in the contest, Parker and her peers agreed to raise a minimum of $1,500 each for Children's Hospital at Dartmouth.
As of Friday afternoon, Parker had raised $4,563 toward her personal goal of $5,000, the fourth-highest total of any of the game's participants.
In total, $184,541 had been raised in this year's lead-up to the Battle of the Badges, with the overall goal of $200,000 well within reach given expected last-minute donations and ticket sales to the game.
“I'm very blessed with all the people who have supported me, but the reality is that this is definitely not for me; it's for the kids,” said Parker.
While many organizations and individuals around the state have donated time, money and services for the annual fundraiser, Parker said, her fundraising efforts have been fueled by a very personal experience.
“My mother suffered a brain aneurism and was treated at Dartmouth, and they really helped us with the financial end of things, so a big part of me feels a little indebted, and I'm enjoying giving back to Dartmouth as much possible,” she said.
Online ticket sales have closed, but tickets are still available for the contest and may be purchased at the door for $10. Children 10 and under receive free admission.
To donate or help sponsor a player, visit: www.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1086001.