At 9 p.m. on Thursday night, the puck dropped on the 11 Day Power Play. 40 players took the ice and began a journey of 250 straight hours of hockey, all to raise money to fight cancer.
Some big names were on hand for the first night of the event.
Buffalo Sabres’ legendary announcer Rick Jenneret called the first hour of action. His color man Rob Ray was in his usual spot between the benches. Key Bank PA announcer Jay Moran announced the goals.
City of Buffalo mayor Byron Brown spoke to the crowd beforehand. Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz declared June 22, 2017 to July 3, 2017 as the days of the 11 Day Power Play.
In the stands, family, friends and members of the community were there to cheer on the players.
Sherrie Ehrig has been watching her son’s games since he was four years old. Ehrig was in the stands once again watching her son Justen play, but on Thursday night there was a little extra special meaning to it.
“He’s out here skating for me and his mother-in-law,” Ehrig said. “He’s amazing.”
Sherrie Ehrig currently has stage-four metastatic breast cancer. Justen’s mother-in-law, Gail Banas lost her battle to cancer in 2016. Justen brought the blanket his mother used to get through chemo, to with sleep on his cot with.
Justen has always had a love for hockey. When her son first told her about the 11 Day Power Play, she wasn’t surprised that he was going to do it.
“Because it’s him, I didn’t think anything of it,” Ehrig said. “When Justen was a kid he could smell the ice. In between seasons he would even smell his pucks because they smelled like hockey.”
Peter Martin was there cheering on his son Ryan. Martin’s friends and family put up a sign on the railing with his nickname “Martino” in a show of support.
At 22 years old, Ryan lost his friend Matthew Quarcini to a rare form of leukemia. Ryan said in his blog post on the website that “it haunts me to this day” that he never offered to get tested to see if he could donate his bone marrow. Ryan also lost a co-worker to colon-cancer last year. The 11 Day Power Play is his way of giving back.
“Ryan feels it is necessary to do this and give back,” Martin said.
The 11 Day Power Play isn’t just about the sacrifices of the players, but also their families’.
Not only will Peter Martin be coming down to the HarborCenter over the next 11 days to cheer on his son, but he will also be helping out Ryan’s wife who is currently pregnant.
Martin believes that his son and the 39 other players are going to break the record.
“The training that they’ve went through is incredible,” Martin said. “They’re are going to do it.”
Before the puck dropped, 11 Day Power Play organizers Mike and Amy Lesakowski announced that they had exceeded their goal of raising $1,000,000 for Roswell Park.