Cops and firefighters will take each other on in charity hockey game

April 28, 2014
Justin Melchert, left, and Scott Domin are playing for the Smoke Eaters team.

Justin Melchert, left, and Scott Domin are playing for the Smoke Eaters team.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

VICTORY TWP. — Some rivalries are just natural. Cats and dogs. Michigan State and University of Michigan. Cops and firefighters.

On Wednesday, area law enforcement and fire/rescue personnel will battle it out on the ice — for a good cause. The first Smoke Eaters vs. Law Dogs hockey game will be held at the West Shore Community Ice Arena on the campus of West Shore Community College. Proceeds from the evening will go towards the newly established Mason County Fire Relief Fund.

“The idea came from Rob Rudzki, who is a reservist with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office,” said Custer Fire Department Lt. Justin Melchert, who is one of the event organizers. “Rob used to live in Marquette and every year the cops and firefighters hold a charitable hockey game. It’s a pretty big deal up there and we thought it would be a fun event. Not only is it for a good cause but a chance for some good camaraderie.”

Melchert said the Mason County Fire Relief Fund was established to help victims of structure fires.

“There are a lot of times when an individual or family don’t have a place to go or don’t have basic necessities immediately after a fire,” Melchert said. “The American Red Cross offers help, but they’re budget is often stretched. Our goal is to be able to put someone in need up for three nights in a local hotel and then also buy them some basic supplies like clothing and toiletries.

“This isn’t meant to replace what the Red Cross does,” Melchert added. “This is meant to offer that organization a little relief and also as a way for the local emergency services personnel to help the victims after the tragedy.”

The hockey game is the kickoff event for fundraising for the fund. Admission is free, but free will donations will be taken. There will also be a silent auction of items donated by area individuals and businesses along with raffles.

“We want people to come out and have a good time,” Riverton Twp. Fire Chief Joe Cooper, another event organizer, said. “Quite often people come across police, firefighters or EMTs during the worst of times. We all work together as teams and coming together for a good clean competition is just a little way of showing the public how we all get along.”

The committee includes Melchert, Cooper, Rudzki and Life EMS EMT Scott Domin.

The Law Dogs team will include players from Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Ludington Police Department, Manistee County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, Oakes Correctional Facility and Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources. The Smoke Eaters team will include firefighters from Hamlin Twp. Fire Dept., Custer Fire Dept., Free Soil/Meade Fire Dept., Scottville Fire Dept., Riverton Twp. Fire Dept. and Life EMS.

Naturally, others department representatives will be on board for support.

Melchert said the Law Dogs have brought in a ringer. Drew Cole, son of Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, is a former professional hockey player.

“We’ve asked that Drew take it a little easy on us,” Melchert joked.

The game starts at 6:30 p.m. The silent auction will occur during in the lobby throughout the game.

Donations to the Mason County Fire Relief Fund may be made at any branch of West Shore Bank.

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