By Rachel Villari
“This is the first time I’ve ever played ball hockey,” said Corey Perry. Wait, what? The star right winger for the Anaheim Ducks, partner-in-crime to Ryan Getzlaf, 2007 Stanley Cup winner, two-time Olympic gold medalist for Team Canada, Peterborough, Ont. native had never played ball hockey before? We couldn’t believe it either.
“I mean, I guess we played at Olympic training camp, but this was more of a workout," Perry admitted following a promotional event in Toronto June 18. "I’ve never done anything like this before.”
After playing three 12-minute periods alongside contest winners from Excel’s Fresh Face-Off campaign, the NHLer was gassed after his first full ball hockey game.
“It was intense out there,” Perry said. “We had a lot of fun.” Perry led ‘Team Corey’ against ‘Team Drew,’ as he and fellow faux-Californian Drew Doughty represented Hockey Canada at the partnership-sponsored event. “To be honest, due to our schedule throughout the season, we don’t have a lot of time to do these kinds of things in L.A.” Doughty said. “We’ll go do hospital visits and stuff like that, but… it’s good timing to give back to the community in our summers.”
Team Drew controlled possession for majority of the game, despite a few breakouts from Team Corey. Of the two, Doughty is the more ball hockey experienced of the NHL superstars.
“I help a lot of guys throughout the league in charity events, whether it’s a golf tournament, ball hockey, baseball – I go to all those throughout the summer,” Doughty said. “It’s always more fun doing something with (the fans), whether it’s just playing a sport or whatever it may be rather than just sitting down at a dinner for a long time. It’s great to see how they react to certain situations (in gameplay) and they like to see how you react, and being able to just play hockey with us is huge for them, and we’re excited to play with them.”
“This was one of the better (events) that we’ve done,” Perry said. “Normally we’re sort of just sitting around taking pictures and signing autographs, but we got to go out there, play hockey, sign autographs and take pictures, but at the same time, we’re still playing and interacting with the contest winners and it was a lot of fun. “I’ve never done anything like it.”