The inaugural Chicago Hockey Charity Classic was a matchup between a hometown Blackhawk and a Blackhawks star: Vinnie Hinostroza against Patrick Kane.
After Kane’s team dominated the first half, Hinostroza’s team was able to pull off a 14-12 comeback victory Saturday in west suburban Geneva.
Vincent LoVerde scored the equalizer with one second left in regulation, and after a six-round shootout, Hinostroza’s team outscored Kane’s 3-1 for the victory.
“There’s no wager, but we’re pretty competitive every day in the gym, and so obviously it’s a little competitive out there,” Hinostroza said at the half with his team trailing 5-3.
“It’s for a great cause, and the main part is just having fun with everyone.”
But that didn’t mean Hinostroza was willing to lie down: “I’m sure there will be some bragging rights.”
More important than winning the game and gaining bragging rights, however, was raising money for the Chicago Special Olympics.
The game and silent auction raised nearly $139,500, surpassing the event’s initial goal of $100,000.
Kane, who had assists on the first two shifts, said it was a no-brainer for him to attend.
“You meet these kids, and they have so much passion — such a positive outlook on life, and nothing can really seem to get them down,” Kane said. “I thought it was a great cause. . . . I figured it would be a great thing to support. Why not come out here and skate and have some fun playing hockey with some people?”
And Kane’s words were echoed by Hinostroza and Anthony Louis on the opposing team.
“It’s obviously a good cause, and [it’s great] to be a part of it with all these guys who are obviously big names in the game,” Louis said. “It was just special for me. It was a lot of fun to be out there.”
Besides raising money, event chairman Topher Scott wanted to emphasize the importance of inclusion.
“Special needs is all about inclusion — all abilities and all genders. Everybody belongs,” said Scott, who’s from Buffalo Grove. “[The special-needs kids] love it. And I think for these kids to interact with their heroes and with current Blackhawks . . . it’s amazing.”
Scott didn’t just talk the talk about inclusion. His event put together two diverse rosters, featuring not only current and former NHL players, but also three women’s world champions and two Paralympic ice-sledge hockey gold medalists.
Louis, whom the Hawks signed to a two-year deal in March, is starting to make a name for himself with fans. He scored three goals, including a top-shelf goal in the shootout.
After the game, Louis brushed off his performance.
“I was just messing around,” Louis said. “I was playing my game and not going too hard, but obviously I wanted to score goals.”
Scott said the event exceeded his expectations.
“Year 1, you don’t really know what you’re going to get,” Scott said. “But the guys playing, they were great, and the fans were great. . . . Special Olympics are getting a lot of money, and we’re really happy about that.”
Follow me on Twitter @madkenney.