The Blue Point Brewing Company’s Bastards and the Long Island Warriors will take the ice Sunday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. for the inaugural “Toast Your Hero” hockey game at the Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.
Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Long Island Warriors and Project9line, two veterans associations aimed at acclimating former and active military service members with their communities through engaging activities.
General admission tickets are $20. For $35, spectators receive a general admission ticket, a “Toast Your Hero” long sleeve t-shirt and a free Blue Point pint at the Garden Social beer garden and kitchen pre-game party in East Meadow.
‘Comradery and community’
The Long Island Warriors formed under USA Hockey’s disabled hockey program in October 2020. They play each week and participate in larger charity events at least once a month, according to Nicholas Auletta, the vice president of resource development.
Auletta said the organization now has 50 players spread across multiple teams of varying skill levels.
“It’s very easy to be a part of a community when there’s a base and everyone is similar in terms of being a part of a greater cause,” said Auletta, who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army. “Often when you come back, you miss that, and we think it’s important to give back and be a part of the community.
“We’re using hockey to build comradery and community, the same way that all of our team members experienced in the military,” he added.
Patrick Donohue, a U.S. Army vet who founded Project9line in 2013 and plays on the Long Island Warriors, said events like the game with the Blue Point Brewing Co. raise awareness of the importance of helping veterans once they return home.
“Activities in general help bring veterans together,” said Donohue, who served in Afghanistan. “Hockey as it seems is the best at that so far. We’ve attracted over four dozen veterans, some of them have been out for a while, some of them just got home a few months ago.
“Watching that unfold as a participant and as someone who’s been trying to build that in other ways for years, to see it come to light in such immense fashion with so many veterans and such comradery and so much purpose being built, it’s really wonderful,” he added.
For Blue Point Brewing Co., the forthcoming match is the latest for the “Toast You Hero” campaign it launched last year to thank frontline workers and hometown heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I come from a very long line with a military background,” said Jim Richards, a Blue Point brew master and Bastards player. “It’s an honor to have a chance to give back and hopefully help veterans feel a sense of normality getting back into the world, playing a sport, doing something they love being around good people.”
Top: Jim Richards and Chris Csabon, a veteran, of the Blue Point Bastards, courtesy of Blue Blue Brewing Co.