After nearly 15 years the Victoria Police Capitals and Saanich Police Watchdogs hockey teams have made it to Game 7.
The two squads, whose rosters consist of members from their respective institutions, have their eyes on being the first to inscribe their team’s name on the coveted Battle of the Badges trophy, which current sits at three wins apiece.
Puck drop is 6 p.m. at Archie Browning Sports Centre on Tuesday (March 24).
“It started as friendly Victoria-Saanich banter in the locker room,” said Const. Phil DiBattista of VicPD, Capitals’ captain. “The trophy is really cool, it’s from an athletic contest for Victoria area police officers 100 years ago. We found it and re-purposed it, and we love winning it.”
That low-key rivalry evolved into the fundraising force for Victoria’s Special Olympics chapter.
Admission for the game is by donation with a well-stocked silent auction, including and an authentic 2014-15 Washington Capitals sweater signed by the team, yes, including Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom, as well as Ovehckin and Backstrom signed game-pucks (Caps’ coach Barry Trotz had them sent over in support when he heard about the event). There’s also a 50-50 raffle for the Special Olympics.
Opening ceremonies will feature a puck drop by the respective police chiefs and Stephanie Greaves will sing the national anthem, just as she’s done at Rogers Arena for the Vancouver Canucks.
“It’s a lot of fun for us to play. We’re all colleagues and we work together all the time,” DiBattista said. “It’s good for us to get out there and just be part of the community, and invite the community to come out and see yes we’re police officers, but we’re part of the community.”
The losing team’s police force will fly the flag of the other team’s police force for 24 hours. Each team’s bench will also have a Special Olympics athlete handling the bench door for player shift changes.
“We’ve partnered with (Victoria Special Olympics) in the past,” DiBattista said. “We just thought we donate to them regularly, hockey’s fairly athletic and it seemed like a really good fit.”
“(Last year’s game) was well-received with full arena at Pearkes, 550 people,” said Saanich police Const. Damian Kowalewich, who played for the Victoria Cougars junior B team in its inaugural season of 1998-99. “Archie Browning is bigger so we’re hoping to take advantage of it’s size this year. And of course, Ace the dog, Saanich Police’s mascot, will come out for the kids.”
Cliff LeQuesne from 100.3 The Q! radio station will serve as master of ceremonies.
“It’s all for the Special Olympics, every single minute of it,” Kowalewich said. “It’s important to promote the health and wellness for individuals from all walks of life.”