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Weary Canadians Skate to Ice Hockey Record

Posted on: 02/20/2005

Weary Canadians Skate to Ice Hockey Record

Sun Feb 20, 5:11 PM ET World - Canada

By Scott Pattison

EDMONTON, Alberta (Reuters) - Close to 1,000 cheering fans gathered around a makeshift outdoor ice rink in the Canadian hinterland to catch a glimpse of history in a sport that is struggling with its public image.

At 11:13:01 p.m. MST on Saturday, a group of 40 Canadian players, who took to the ice on Feb. 11, shattered the Guinness Book of Records for the longest-ever match by playing 203 consecutive hours of hockey, and vowed to keep skating into Monday. "All I can think about right now is that my father and my wife are watching," said organizer and player, Brent Saik, as fireworks lit up the northern Alberta sky to celebrate the achievement intended to raise money from cancer research.
The Edmonton optometrist was initially inspired to organize the longest hockey game as a fund-raiser for pediatric cancer research two years ago, in honor of his father, Terry, who died of colon cancer in 1991.
Saik, 36, and his hearty cohorts set the record with a match of 82 consecutive hours, but that mark was then beaten by a group in Ontario. He decided to try again last year after his wife Susan died of a brain tumor.
Ice hockey is close to a national religion in Canada, but its image has been badly tarnished this winter by a labor dispute that prompted the National Hockey League to cancel its season.
"These guys do it from the heart," said Crystal Brown, warming her hands by a nearby bonfire, while watching the latest shift of 12 players -- six players to a team -- lumber up and down the ice.
"Guys are still blocking shots out there and it's day number eight," said player Dana Reynolds, lying down while volunteers iced down his swollen ankle.
The players hope to eventually reach 240 hours on the ice, with a goal of raising C$250,000 before the final buzzer sounds.

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