For the love of the game and the fight against cancer: The 11 Day Power Play

Jul 1, 2024

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Every year, hockey players come from around New York state and the nation for the 11 Day Power Play — a special game that lasts 11 days and raises money for cancer research.

The score doesn’t matter, but the game is vital more than you can imagine to the faces you see on and off the ice.

“My older brother started playing when he was younger, so me and my younger brother just filed suit. I think I’ve been skating since I’ve been 5 years old. I’m not the best hockey player, but I go out there [and] I try to do it,” said Kevin Bouquard, who just loves being around the game of hockey, especially during those 11 days.

“The first year, my brother Andy was an original board member for [the 11 Day Power Play.] I was just helping them out, [passing] out the jerseys. And when he first started talking about the 11 Day Power Play, like I go, ‘40 guys are going to play 11 days straight?’ I’m like, ‘these guys are nuts. This is crazy.’”

Community hockey with a fundraising aspect — the concept just screams “Buffalo”, but what happens in the rink has an impact that hits everyone.

“We played in the first community shift. And then unfortunately, before the second community shift, he passed away,” said Bouquard. “He was a 23-year cancer survivor. He went through hell.”

A close tie to the community in the fight of their life, and the game that brings them all together under the rink lights, shines brighter with every shift on and off the ice.

“The more I got involved with this and I now I work at Roswell, you start meeting patients, you meet more people. So now it’s like, I had two names to start with. Now I realized, like, you’re playing for a million stories, like a lot of people,” he said. “We all know what we’re doing this for. You put this jersey on, you know you’re making a huge impact on the community.”

Bouquard is a complete player here: captaining a team, volunteering around the arena and even skating shifts as the official.

“I am the worst person to ever put on a black and white striped sweater,” he joked. “So I tell [players], if I’m reffing teams or a game, I tell them right off the bat, like, ‘I’m not an official referee, I’m not trained, I’m not nothing. I’m just here to volunteer to help out.’”

Even still, he’s helping keep order in the game that directly honors his brother Andy’s legacy. Having kept an eye on the next generation or those passing the torch on the ice for three hours at a time, he’s spent more than 27 hours on the ice through the entirety of this year’s Power Play alone.

“[I’m] feeling a little sore, legs are a little tired,” Bouquard said. “But you think about what all these patients go through and that all goes away. You don’t even think about it. You just keep going. Keep doing it for a good cause.”

From every buzzer and shift change, the game and the fight rage on into day 12 and beyond.

“This is what [Andy] loved,” said Bouquard. “The list just keeps growing, so that’s why I think that’s what pushes all of us to keep going. Just so you get to that day where we don’t have to do this.”

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The 11 Day Power Play® is a registered trademark of The 11 Day Power Play, Inc.

Check donations can be mailed to: PO Box 4, Buffalo, NY 14223