Thunderbirds’ Hockey Challenge takes center ice on Feb. 15

Full day of games benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska

  • Tuesday, February 4, 2020 7:42pm
  • Sports

The Seattle Thunderbirds and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska (RMHC) present Hockey Challenge 2020 on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the accesso ShoWare Center.

The T-Birds play the Vancouver Giants in a WHL game at 6:05 p.m. followed by the local Celebrity and T-Birds Alumni All-Star Game featuring Team Olczyk vs. Team Patterson.

Ricky Olczyk, the assistant general manager of the NHL Seattle franchise, will coach against Ed Patterson, a former Thunderbird and NHL player and father of T-Bird Max Patterson.

Five Challenge games will be staged before the T-Birds-Giants game. The Challenge will feature a team from the NHL Seattle office – the “Seattle 32’s” – consisting of employees of the NHL’s 32nd franchise, which has yet to be named and is expected to begin play in 2021.

The 32’s will play Breakaway Crew in the first game of the Challenge. The Crew is comprised of players who took part in the fifth annual RMHC Breakaway Challenges on Aug. 17 at Sno-King Arena Kirkland and Jan. 11 at the Kent Valley Ice Centre.

The Breakaway Challenges pitted youth and adult skaters against players who have never played goalie. Each breakaway on a new goalie required a donation to RMHC. If a skater scored on a new goalie, that skater received a free breakaway against an experienced goalie. If the experienced goalie gave up a goal, the goalie donated to RMHC. There was no limit to the number of breakaways a skater could take against a new goalie.

At this year’s Breakaway Challenges, a skills competition was added for youth and adult skaters to raise funds. More than $16,000 was raised for RMCH through the two Breakaway Challenges this season, bringing the five-year total to more than $50,000 raised. The skaters and goalies who raised the most money for RMHC at the two Breakaway Challenges this season will have a final competition during the first intermission of the T-Birds game.

Single-game tickets are on sale online and at the ShoWare box office. A ticket gives fans access to all Challenge events, including all the games.


Former T-Birds, including Jamie Huscroft, Danny Lorenz, Lloyd Shaw, Jim McTaggart and Ed Sprague will be divided up among Team Olczyk and Team Patterson. Former Tacoma Rocket Jamie Butt and former professional hockey players Tavis Hansen and Doug Kirton, who is the Sno-King Hockey director, will also play in the All-Star game. …

John Barr, the creator and manager of the grassroots “NHL to Seattle” group, is in his 16th year supporting RMHC. Barr is organizing the Challenge game between NHLtoSeattle Black vs. NHLtoSeattle White. … Molly Doner who lives in the area, is a hockey instructor and played four seasons with the University of Wisconsin Badgers, returns for her second All-Star Game. …

Ian Furness and Matt “Slickhawk” Mikolas from 950 KJR Sportsradio will host and emcee the All-Star Game. …

This is the 22nd anniversary of the Hockey Challenge, which began in 1998, when hockey-playing Microsoft employees, with the help of the Thunderbirds, took an in-house rivalry public and decided to raise money for the RMHC. Since inception, the Challenge has raised more than $6.4 million for RMHC, which provides a “home-away-from-home” for children and their families during medical treatment, making each day a little easier.

Hockey Challenge 2020 schedule

Saturday, Feb. 15

Game 1: Seattle 32’s vs. Breakaway Crew, 8:35 a.m.

Game 2: Katie’s Krushers vs. Manny’s Mayhem, 10:15 a.m.

Game 3: Developer Relations vs. XBox Live, 11:55 a.m.

Game 4: Azure vs. Office 365, 1:35 p.m.

Game 5: NHLtoSeattle Black vs. NHLtoSeattle White, 3:15 p.m.

Game 6: Seattle Thunderbirds vs. Vancouver Giants, 6:05 p.m.

Game 7: Celebrity and T-Birds Alumni All-Star Game, immediately following T-Birds/Giants game.

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