Blake Geoffrion had a checklist of priorities when he unveiled plans for a charity hockey game that would benefit the University of Wisconsin Health Burn Center.
Geoffrion wanted the event to showcase the star-studded nature of the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey program.
Hall of Famers, NHL standouts, Olympians, All-Americans, an NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player award recipient and, of course, a Hobey Baker Award winner were on hand Friday night when the Red and White squads met at LaBahn Arena.
Geoffrion, who in 2010 became the first Badgers player to win the Hobey, wanted a sellout crowd to show up to support the cause.
There were 2,255 fans on hand at the modern home of the UW women’s hockey team, taking their seats in a facility built after most of the participants embarked on their pro careers.
Geoffrion wanted to hand over a nice chunk of change to a good cause, one he became enamored with during his time as a UW student-athlete from 2006-10.
UW athletic officials said approximately $40,000 was raised with proceeds from the inaugural event earmarked for the UW Burn Center, one of 45 in the nation verified by the American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons.
Fans unfurled “It’s a Great Day for Hockey” banners, laughed at the antics of the players — like when St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott joined a second-period rush and set up a goal by New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh — and unleashed time-honored cheers during the fun-filled exhibition contest won by the White Team 15-13.
Elliott’s puck-stopping counterpart was Joel Rumpel, a UW senior-to-be whose jersey didn’t have a nameplate and whose name wasn’t announced, as per NCAA rules.
What was the enduring memory? For most, it was the reception from the fans.
“It was awesome to see,” said Jake McCabe, who left UW after last season to sign an NHL contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s what makes this town great,” said Derek Stepan, who left UW in 2010 and is fresh off playing in the Stanley Cup Final with the New York Rangers.
Also on Geoffrion’s list was setting the event on course to becoming an annual deal.
Time will tell, but first impressions were excellent.
“It exceeded my expectations,” Geoffrion said.
The event included a silent auction, with the game-worn jerseys the primary attraction along with various pieces of memorabilia.
Geoffrion said the true meaning of the get-together goes beyond the brotherhood at UW to what he hopes will be a lasting legacy.
“Yeah, it’s great to get all the guys back together and it’s great to come back to (Madison), but, really, we’re here for a cause — raising money to help young people that are having trouble in their life,” he said.