Canadians Skate for Hockey Charity in Central Park Tournament

Donald Lewis was startled by a flying object coming from the hockey rink.

“I thought a puck was going to hit me in the face,” said Lewis, general counsel and acting president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. “A bird flew by.”

Such are the quirks of outdoor hockey in New York, as 16 teams competed to raise money for charity over the last two days at Lasker Rink in Central Park. Teams came from as far away as Canada to help raise money for Ice Hockey in Harlem.

The event, put on for the seventh year by the Canadian Association of New York, raised as much as $30,000 for the non-profit group that gives disadvantaged kids a hockey community in which to grow up.

“I’m not feeling great, but I’m hanging in there,” Lewis, 39, said in an interview before his third 40-minute game of the day, playing for a team sponsored by his former law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. “The biggest problem is the time in between games. It’s hard to get the engine going again. I’m tight.”

Each team played three round-robin games on Feb. 16 to set up seeds for yesterday’s playoff round. The tournament was won by the UCC Blues from Toronto’s Upper Canada College with a 4-2 win in the final against the IceHawks.

Dean Keyworth, the CANY president who organizes the event, said it was a non-checking, “not overly competitive” tournament in which teams earned points for wins and ties and lost points for committing penalties.

A team sponsored by Canadian law firm Norton Rose plays the tournament each year to enjoy the outdoor hockey as well as New York’s nightlife, said attorney Stephen Kelly. After a night out on the Lower East Side, his team went to bed at 2:30 a.m. and hit the ice at 7:15 a.m.

Long Nights

“We lost 6-0 in the first game,” said Kelly, who heads the firm’s business group in Montreal. “Not surprising.”

After another long night, they never made it back for the playoff round.

“They always forfeit on Sunday because they’re too banged up,” Keyworth, who is on the hedge-fund coverage team at HSBC Holdings Plc’s HSBC Securities in New York, said with a laugh.

Several of the teams were sponsored, mostly by law firms, including Proskauer Rose LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP. Toronto-Dominion Bank’s TD Securities also entered a team and Keyworth said he’d like to have more Wall Street involvement in future tournaments.

“I would love to have a banks division,” he said.

CANY, whose mission is to foster goodwill between Canadians and Americans, began the tournament with a bunch of guys who simply wanted to play hockey.

“I feel like I could fill this thing three or four times over, but there’s only so much ice time I can get,” Keyworth said. “The pond hockey concept has got a lot of traction.”

Charity Work

CANY has raised more than $100,000 for Ice Hockey in Harlem, which works to give children access to equipment, ice time and travel opportunities, said John Sanful, the charity’s executive director. Participants learn to skate and play at Lasker Rink and have classroom time, studying topics such as geometry and geography as they relate to the sport.

“All of those things come as result of what CANY does for us,” Sanful, 45, said in an interview. “Certainly we’re a non-traditional hockey community. The real beauty in what we do is that any night we’re practicing here you not only see the kids enjoying themselves but you see parents lined around the rink.”

Keyworth spoke in a rink locker room with its signature smell wafted through the building, a reminder of his days growing up playing hockey in British Columbia.

“It’s tough living in Manhattan being a hockey player because the question is always what do you do with your hockey bag?” said Keyworth, a father of two. “It becomes ever more challenging when you have a significant other who does not tolerate the hockey bag smell.”

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