STAMFORD, Conn. – Hockey fans packed the stands at the Terry Conners Rink in Stamford for the annual Big Assist exhibition game Wednesday night. The action-packed match-up between professional players was held to raise funds for the Darien-based Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation.
Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders scored five goals for the White Team, which defeated the Blue Team, 9-4. White jumped out ahead early when Aaron Palushaj of the Montreal Canadiens scored, followed by Moulson. Blue tied it up with goals from Kevin Sullivan of Union College and Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens.
White briefly retook the lead with a minute remaining in the first period on another goal by Moulson. With 30 seconds left, Phil DeSimone of the Hamilton Bulldogs tied it up again at three.
During halftime, the kids in the stands went wild as the Geico gecko skated out and tossed hats, water bottles and other goodies to the crowd.
Blue took the lead early in the second period on a goal by Ryan Shannon of the Zurich Lions. They held that lead until Atkinson and Moulson together scored four goals in a minute-and-a-half to secure the victory.
The Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation raises money to help people with spinal cord injuries. The charity’s namesake is a former Darien hockey coach of Shannon and other players who was paralyzed in a swimming accident in 1997.
“The event is really picking up momentum thanks to the support of these great hockey players, the NHL, the venue, the sponsors,” Harrington-Howes said. He started the event, now in its fourth year, with Shannon, who got his fellow players to take part.
“They don’t have to do this, but they do. Their support is what really makes this all happen.”