It’s not an easy feat playing roller hockey in a delirious state of exhaustion.
“I already can’t feel my legs,” said goalie Aaron Blauer while smoking a cigarette after his first shift. “I wouldn’t be able to function if I had to wear this equipment for four hours.”
Blauer is one of six goalies participating in the Breaking Records to End MS roller hockey marathon organized by Le Rinque, Montreal’s first venue dedicated entirely to ball and roller hockey. Held over the weekend of Sept. 11, the event set out to shatter the Guinness World Record of a day-long roller hockey game while raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. The ultimate goal was to play for 36 hours.
Recent John Molson School of Business graduate, Jordan Topor, and his partner, Josh Naygeboren, the co-owners and founders of Le Rinque, envisioned hosting this record-breaking weekend over one year ago. The strong connection to multiple sclerosis stems from Topor, whose mother suffers from the chronic disease that affects the central nervous system.
“[My family] usually participates in the MS Walk, but we wanted to do something different this year, and the fact that we own Le Rinque and know so many guys that love to play hockey, this just made sense,” said Topor who also participated in the game.
Music was blaring and the barbecue was fired up as legions of fans came to support the group of overtired neophyte athletes. They played their hearts out through the overwhelming smell of sweaty hockey equipment, barely masked by the scent of grilled meat.
The tournament worked in shifts, with two teams taking the “ice” for four hours while the other two teams rested on the Red Cross beds set up behind the building. Goalies had the privilege of having only two-hour shifts between four-hour breaks.
The first few shifts were rather competitive, but as Friday night turned into Saturday morning, the skaters started moving slower and the goalies were practically sitting still.
What kept the players going throughout the weekend on barely any sleep was the idea of helping those less fortunate.
“The pain and everything we had to go through over these 36 hours was tough and unbearable, but it doesn’t even come close to comparing to the pain that my mother deals with everyday and every second of her life,” said Topor.
There were times when it seemed the participants would have rather played their shifts cocooned in a blanket with a pillow attached to their helmets, but after coffee and some sleep, they kept on trucking.
“It’s not so bad, but I have two more shifts to go,” said Jeremy Heitner, all wrapped up in a blanket and awaiting his next shift.
“Even though [the players] were so exhausted, they went out and played in the middle of the night and no one complained,” said Naygeboren, who was one of the goalies. “They knew what they were getting into and what they were playing for.”
Naygeboren recognizes the success of the event was largely due to the outpour of support from volunteers. “They were there to help out with anything, and it was so nice of them all to come out,” he said.
Without a particular figure in mind, Topor and Naygeboren were ecstatic to reveal they raised over $55,000 for the cause. As for breaking the world record? Turns out proving you broke the Guinness World Record is tougher than actually breaking it. The issue is there are two ways to prove you’ve succeeded in beating the world record. The first requires a Guinness official from London to be present at the event which can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. The second option requires a little more work, but costs next to nothing. It entails having multiple witnesses at the event who sign a logbook of every shift that takes place over 36 hours. Pictures and videos need to be taken at specific times, and a highlight package has to be compiled with footage of the event and interviews with volunteers and participants.
“We’d rather that money go to the MS Society.” said Topor. “It is a charity after all. I could live without breaking a world record.”
“If all else fails I could supply Guinness with the footage from our security cameras,” said Naygeboren. “We have every second of the event on tape.”
Nobody thought the moment would come, but the 36 hour marathon finally ended with a 621-621 tie. At that point, no one was interested in playing any form of overtime to crown the winner. The common words fluttering around the room were “exhausted”, “bed” and “sleep.” However, there was no denying the overall sense of accomplishment that filled the arena.
“I don’t know if we could handle a marathon roller hockey game every year, but we have the space, so we’ll definitely do some kind of charity event again,” said Naygeboren.
The puck doesn’t stop here: Le Rinque is still collecting donations for the MS Society. Visit www.mssociety.ca/qc/hockey_EN.html for more information or to donate.
For more information about Le Rinque and their services visit www.lerinque.com