Greenwich hockey stars help make The Big Assist a huge hit

Greenwich resident Cam Atkinson was one of several local stars that took part in The Big Assist last week at the Terry Connors Ice Rink in Stamford. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich resident Cam Atkinson was one of several local stars that took part in The Big Assist last week at the Terry Connors Ice Rink in Stamford. — John Ferris Robben photo

On a humid July night, hundreds of people poured into Terry Conners Rink in Stamford to attend, of all things, a hockey game.

The game was for fun and to raise money, and a plethora of Greenwich hockey stars were a part of it.

The Big Assist VI annual hockey game and silent auction featured former college players and those from the professional ranks, all to benefit the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation. It is a foundation dedicated helping individuals with spinal injuries by providing grants to improve their quality of life.

Darien native and Zurich Lions Ryan Shannon is the organizer of The Big Assist, a way to raise money for the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation. — John Ferris Robben photo

Darien native and Zurich Lions Ryan Shannon is the organizer of The Big Assist, a way to raise money for the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation. — John Ferris Robben photo

The two-period exhibition featured homegrown NHL players Cam Atkinson, Kevin Shattenkirk and Ryan Haggerty. Also included were James Van Riemsdyk (Maple Leafs), Matt Moulson (Sabres), Nathan Gerbe (Hurricanes), and clearly the biggest star of the night, Marty St Louis of the New York Rangers received the biggest ovation during player introductions.

It can be said Terry Conners Rink was packed to the rafters, much to the amazement of foundation founder Obie Harrington-Howes.

“We put about as many people in this building as will fit. Which begs the question where do we go from here,” said Harrington-Howes.

Darien native and Zurich Lions forward Ryan Shannon has orchestrated all six events. Each year the fund-raiser has grown. With the enormity of this year’s crowd, the question of how to handle it is a concern to Harrington-Howes.

“This is really a hometown event. There has to be another way to leverage this,” Harrington-Howes said. “We have a loyal fan base and we don’t what moving it would do.”

The size of the crowd did not affect the atmosphere of the evening.

Team White won the game 12-6. The tone of the game was set early when Nathan Gerbe scored 30 seconds in the opening period for Team White.

Despite Team Blue tying the game a few minutes later, Team White would score three unanswered goals in the remaining five minutes of the half to close the period.

The second period got off to a roaring start for Team Blue. St. Louis set the building into a frenzy 60 seconds into the second period putting the puck past Jack Campbell of the Dallas Stars to cut Team White’s lead in half. Only 30 seconds later, Team Blue would make it 4-3. Team White would score 45 seconds later and never looked back.

The game was only part of the festivities — there was also a silent auction featuring autographed items from various NHL current and former players, non-autographed items such as event banners, hockey lessons, and gift certificates. The players also took a lot of time to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk to people in attendance.

The final amount of money raised was not known. However, there leaves little doubt as to the success of the event as well as the work the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation has done for people with spinal injuries.

To learn more about the charity and its impact, visit Ohhf.org.

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