My New Hockey Family 

by | Feb 9, 2024

It was your typical fall Sunday in Buffalo – cold and gray, with a hint of freezing rain falling from the sky. My friend Ryan and I attended the Sabres game the night before, a highly entertaining bummer of a 5-4 loss to the Maple Leafs. It was the 23rd different arena on my five-plus year quest to tour the NHL.  

As was my goal with all of my NHL trips, I did like the locals do. The Bills were playing at 1:00, on the road against the Jets, so Ryan decided to take me downtown to this cool place called Riverworks before my flight back to North Carolina. And as the locals did, we enjoyed our couple of Labatt Blues and a tasty bar pie while watching the Bills game.  

While exploring Riverworks before kickoff, I found a table filled with sky blue and navy-blue merchandise. The hockey pucks caught my eye, as did the game being played on the rink outside. Especially the scoreboard, which at the time read 92-89. If you know anything about hockey, you know that’s a ridiculously high score. 

What I didn’t know at the time was there were still another 4,585 goals to be scored in that game. What I also didn’t know at the time was what this merchandise table and offensive juggernaut of a hockey game really meant. But what I learned was one of the coolest and most impactful stories I’ve ever heard. 

That was how I met the 11 Day Power Play. A random Sunday afternoon watching a football game with a friend at a bar five hundred miles from home. And over the past three years, I’ve realized something important about the event and what it means to me. It’s a fundraiser, yes, and a hockey tournament, and a great time. But for me, it’s also a chance to spend time as part of my new hockey family.  

When I started my NHL arena journey in 2018, I felt like it was a personal journey to honor my grandmother Leona and her amazing impact on my life and those of all our family members. She had beaten breast cancer twice in her remarkable 97-year life, in 1976 and 2012, and always encouraged my sister and I to do something that made us happy.  

Hockey makes me happy. Raising a lot of money for cancer research makes me happy. And having the privilege to do both of those things alongside literally thousands of other people that share the same passions as I do makes me happy.  

And feeling welcomed and included into such a special hockey family makes me happy. I’m a fairly shy guy from Charlotte, North Carolina. But everybody has welcomed me into the 11 Day Power Play family with open arms. And I love everything about it: the grueling 3-hour games, the on-ice banter screaming “Shoresy” at everybody, the mock interviews we conduct in the locker room like it’s Hockey Night in Canada. I love it.  

For 11 days a year we come together to fight the good fight. To play hockey. To make a difference in the remarkable community of Buffalo. But it doesn’t stop there. We spread the word about 11 Day’s mission. We wear our blue jerseys proudly at hockey games. We raise MILLIONS of dollars for those in need. We try to recruit our friends and hockey teammates around the country to join us. These are things I will continue to do for as long as I can.   

Because it’s what you do for your family. It’s what I do for my new hockey family.  

In November 2023, nearly 5 years after my grandmother left us, I published my first book. With the blessing of Mike and Amy Lesakowski, I chose to name it “Putting Cancer on Ice”, the tagline of the 11 Day Power Play. The book tells of my journey throughout the NHL, about the many wonderful people I was blessed to share the journey with, and what I learned about life along the way. I hope that you or a hockey fan in your life will enjoy it – it’s available on Amazon and 100% of my profits from the book go to the 11 Day Power Play.  



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