Blue-line battle for boys in blue

Saanich, Victoria cops to face off Tuesday night for Special Olympics fundraiser

Victoria police Const. Phil DiBattista

Victoria police Const. Phil DiBattista

Saanich and Victoria police officers will face off for a good cause Tuesday in the second annual Battle of the Badges hockey game.

“It started as friendly Victoria-Saanich banter in the locker room,” said Const. Phil DiBattista of VicPD.

That low-key rivalry evolved into the fundraising force, as the Victoria Police Capitals and the Saanich Police Watchdogs will play to raise money for charity.

“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.”

“(Last year’s game) was well-received. We had almost a full arena at Pearkes,” said Saanich police Const. Damian Kowalewich, who played for the Capitals in the past. “We have more celebrities attending this year. Youth sensation Lily Cave, she’s singing the anthem, and of course Ace, our mascot, will come out for the kids.”

Cliff LeQuesne from 100.3 The Q! radio station will serve as master of ceremonies and Ken “Hurricane” Himes will provide the music.

“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.”

Special Olympics athletes will get to hang out in the dressing rooms before the game, and even drop the ceremonial puck for the first faceoff of the night between the two new police chiefs: Bob Downie from Saanich, and Victoria’s Frank Elsner.

“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.”

In a side bet, administration of the losing team will fly the winning department’s flag in front of the losing team’s office the weekend following the game. Last year, the Saanich Watchdogs won the game, and helped raise $3,000 for Special Olympics Victoria.

Battle of the Badges is Tuesday (March 25) at Pearkes Arena (3100 Tillicum Rd.). The chiefs face off for the ceremonial puck drop at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation. Donations can be made directly to Special Olympics B.C. at specialolympics.bc.ca or at the game.

reporter@saanichnews.com