MANCHESTER - In what was a shootout from the very beginning, Team White defeated Team Red 11-9 in the Pro-Am hockey game at Riley Rink on Saturday.

But of all the goals that were scored on the evening, there was only one that mattered - trying to raise as much money as possible for the Bennington Autism Task Force and the Jonathan Levin Scholarship Fund.

"It's a huge draw, especially with autism. You can't have enough research on it and to support that need for children and the teaching is huge," said New Jersey Devils forward Stephen Gionta who played for Team White on Saturday. "It was a lot of fun coming out for a good cause and hopefully we raised some money to help out a little bit.

Two teams battled it out an an exhibition fundraiser match at Riley Rink last Saturday, which featured some professional players from the NHL.
Two teams battled it out an an exhibition fundraiser match at Riley Rink last Saturday, which featured some professional players from the NHL. (Douglas Patac photo)
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Washington Capitals forward Mathieu Perreault had similar feelings about participating in the game.

'"This is kind of like the golf tournaments that I do for charities. I like to get out in public and give back to the children," said Perreault who, like Gionta, was swarmed by fans after the game. "I always get to come here with a couple of my buddies. We get to golf. We get to play Pro hockey and it's for a great cause."

Perreault and Gionta may have been two of the biggest draws with the fans in attendance at the game on Saturday, but it was Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey - playing for Team White - who stole the show, scoring a hat-trick and adding two assists on the night.


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Perreault - who had two goals and two assists - drew first blood, putting Team Red on the board a little over three minutes into the game. Team White trailed 4-2 with the clock winding down at the end of the first period. But that's when Wesleyan University's James Most delivered a shot high glove side as time expired to pull Team White within a goal.

In an action packed second period, Boston University's Sahir Gill evened the score with 15:32 remaining. Team White put up four goals to Team Red's three - two of which came during the last 43 seconds of the period.

Trailing 7-6 to Team White, Perrault buried a shot into the upper right glove side portion of the net to knot the score at seven. Twenty-two seconds later though Vesey got the lead back and the hat-trick.

Forward Brett Leonard gave Team White some breathing room early in the period, putting them up 9-7. But Boston College's Patch Alber pulled Team Red back to within a goal a couple of minutes later.

'With 13:58 left to play Anders Franzon - who had two goals and two assists on the night - put Team White back up by two. Team White took a three goal lead about a minute later when Patrick Russell of Linkoping, Sweden lit the lamp.

The last goal of the evening came with 4:56 remaining in the game when Canton College forward John Sisters put one in the net with 9 seconds left on the power play to pull Team Red back within two.

Harvard goalie Peter Traber had 27 saves on the night for Team White and Providence College goalie Russ Stein had 20 for Team Red.

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