LAKE PLACID - It's been several years since a Lake Placid High School alumni hockey game was held over the holiday break.
That run ended on Wednesday, and most of the credit for making the event a huge success can be given to Ryan "Smiley" Grady, a Blue Bombers senior who has been the manager of the boys hockey team since he was a sixth-grader.
All seniors at Lake Placid High School are required to do a project before they graduate, and Grady turned the alumni game into a fundraiser for 5-year-old Sawyer and 3-year-old Harper, whose father Seth Kilburn tragically passed away this year after he fell while walking home on an August evening in Lake Placid.
Joe Leonard of the blue team skates with the puck during Wednesday’s Lake Placid High School alumni hockey game held at the Olympic Center’s 1932 Jack Shea Arena. Leonard scored the lone goal his side during a 3-1 loss to the gold team.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Ryan Grady, right, who organized Wednesday’s game in Lake Placid, shares a laugh as Blue Bombers boys hockey coach Keith Clark addresses the players and crowd following the action.
(Photo by Alicia Brandes)
Grady said Seth was going to be his godfather when he was baptised a year ago prior to a trip to China, but Seth was unable to be there for the occasion. Seth, who was 34, was a standout hockey player for the Blue Bombers, and Lake Placid's tight-knit hockey community came out in force Wednesday to show its support.
Keith Clark, Lake Placid's boys hockey coach and high school social studies teacher, was Grady's advisor for the project.
"I was looking at getting the alumni game going again, and Smiley was thinking about holding a tournament to help out the Kilburn kids," Clark said.?"As his advisor, I thought the tournament might have been a little too ambitious. We talked about the alumni game, and it turned out to be a perfect fit.
"He's been getting this up and running since late September, and from my perspective, Smiley did a really thorough job," Clark continued. "He did everything. He did a great job with social media, he approached the school board about insurance, he lined up the referees, he arranged for ice time, he worked on getting the players. He's made a lot of connections over the years, and we are extremely proud of the effort he put in on this project."
Wednesday's game at the Olympic Center's 1932 Rink - the home ice of Blue Bombers hockey - was witnessed by a large crowd and featured 40 players competing for the blue and gold teams.
In a contest that included Lake Placid High School gradutes ranging from the class of 1977 to players who graduated in 2012, the blue squad claimed a 3-1 victory.
The event started with Harper, Seth Kilburn's daughter, dropping the puck for the opening faceoff.
Dave Jewtraw scored the first goal for the blue, Trevor Stanton netted the game-winner and Ed Seney, the head men's hockey coach at St. Anselm College and '77 Lake Placid graduate, added an insurance goal.
Joe Leonard notched the gold team's lone goal.
The blue nets were tended by AJ Murphy and Frank Strack was between the pipes for the gold.
Grady said the event has raised more than $2,300 so far, and added he hopes more money will come in to help the two youngters who live in Lake Placid.
"Seth was supposed to be my godfather, and his mom and dad (Celeste and Tony), they mean the world to me," Grady said.?"Helping the kids is something I wanted, something I had to do, and this alumni game was a great way to do it.
"Now that it's over, I'm relieved. It's been a crazy couple of months putting it together," Grady added.?"Down the road, I'm going to look back and say it was a long successful, stressful journey that really changed my life. I've made so many new friends, and their generousity has been tremendous. Hopefully, we can do something just like this next year. I received 100 percent praises."
Donations for the children will be accepted on a on-going basis and can be sent to:
34 Liberty Hill Lane
Lake Placid, NY, 12945
All checks should be made payable to: The Sawyer and Harper Kilburn Fund.
Grady is back on the job today and Friday as Lake Placid's team manager, as the unbeaten Blue Bombers attempt to defend their title in Vermont at the annual Skip Brush Memorial Hockey Tournament in Middlebury.