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East Gwillimbury firefighters take to ice for Newmarket Nighthawks

Team Canada gold medallist Abby Lunney takes on a head coach role at the charity hockey game Sunday to raise money for special needs hockey team
Sparky the fire dog gets ready for the upcoming hockey game between the East Gwillimbury Emergency and Community Safety Services as well as the East Gwillimbury U18 Eagles.

Newmarket’s special needs hockey organization will be getting a boost as East Gwillimbury emergency services take on a U18 team in a charity match.

The East Gwillimbury Emergency and Community Safety Services will be playing against the East Gwillimbury's U18 Eagles April 23 to raise money for the Newmarket Nighthawks. The Nighthawks offer a place for developmentally challenged players to partake in a hockey program geared to them.

Fire prevention officer Shawna Davidson said the game is also an opportunity to get fire safety messages out into the community.

“We want to be seen in the community as a helpful resource and valuable organization,” she said. “We’re always trying different ways to get our messaging out.” 

This is the first time the fire service has partaken in a charity hockey game, which will be at the East Gwillimbury Sports Complex. The event will be taking donations, including non-perishable food items.

Doing a brand-new event like this is a way for the service to reach out to different demographics, Davidson said. She added that supporting the Newmarket Nighthawks is a way to help more children get into the game. 

“A lot of kids want to play hockey, and this is an excellent opportunity for kids who can’t be part of the minor hockey stream,” she said. “It’s an equal opportunity for everyone, and this is just one way we can help.” 

Although Davidson’s squad will not have played together on the ice before, they will have some expertise behind the bench. Local hockey star Abby Lunney, who won gold for Team Canada earlier this year at the U18 women’s world championships, will be the team’s head coach and a special guest for the event.

“We’re very excited,” Davidson said of Lunney’s presence.

The event will go from 3 to 6:30 p.m., with puck drop at 4 p.m. No registration or specific donation is required.

Davidson said she hopes that the public will consider their fire safety messages, such as checking to ensure you have a working smoke alarm and a fire escape plan.

“We’re hoping we’re going to be able to have a great game,” she said.