All skate: Hockey fundraiser joins cancer fight

BRIGHTON – Through his time with the Xaverian hockey program, senior Joe DiMartino is used to working with a team of student-athletes to fundraise for a good cause.

But Sunday afternoon, DiMartino played a part in something that’s never been done, with an organization that continues to establish itself as a pioneer in the name of fighting cancer.

Some of the best boys and girls hockey players in New England put on a show at Warrior Ice Arena, playing in the inaugural A Shot For Life Classic after spending the last nine months fundraising for cancer research at Mass General Hospital. The boys lit up the scoreboard with Team Cure topping Team Hope 15-7, and the girls followed with Team Hope outlasting Team Cure, 7-3.

The number of goals pale in comparison to the more than $100,000 raised leading up to the games, though, setting a new record for ASFL in any of their inaugural talent-based events.

“This whole event, everything with A Shot For Life means so much,” DiMartino said. “Just being able to make a difference in the lives of others, it means so much to us (at Xaverian).”

“It’s really just a testament to I would say hockey culture,” added Loomis Chaffee senior Hamilton Doster, who raised over $7,100 on her own to mark the most of any individual for this event. “How passionate everybody is not only about hockey, but about other things in their life. So being able to use hockey kind of as a way to facilitate fundraising for such a great cause is really awesome.”

With the pace of expansion ASFL has set over the last several years, it’s only fitting that its third and final inaugural event of the school year produces enough money to unofficially contest with all other talent-based fundraisers it has orchestrated – not just the new ones. ASFL just introduced soccer and football in the months before hockey made its debut, adding to baseball, softball, lacrosse and the extensive basketball brand this all started from.

Founder and CEO Mike Slonina said the goal of ASFL is to annually raise over $1 million.

“We’re really moving fast here,” Slonina said. “There is zero doubt in my mind that these events will be nationwide, there will be people surviving because of us, we will be raising $50 million, and every year we do this is further proof that this system works. … For anyone reading this that wants to know whether to get involved or not, A Shot For Life is the winning course. We are going to make a huge impact nationwide, even worldwide as we continue to grow, and to email me and be a part of that.”

For Slonina, it’s more than just contributing toward cancer research.

“If you take a step back and look at it from a macro sense, we’ve essentially revolutionized the way athletes are interacting with their sport in Massachusetts – it’s every sport that’s doing this now,” he said. “I think the long-term ramifications of that is that all of these kids will grow into adults that now care about the world beyond their sport. And I think that’s an important side effect of what we’re doing here.”

At least five different players scored multiple goals in the boys game, which touched 22 combined scores. That included Jack Brandt, who got to team up with fellow scorer Coleman Jenkins as former teammates at Tabor Academy.

Brandt, now a player for the Madison Capitols junior hockey team in Wisconsin, raved over the ASFL experience.

“It was awesome I think to just be a part of something a lot bigger than yourself,” he said. “All of us having, in some way, been affected by cancer. Just be able to come together and just have fun, it was really fun. I had a good time.”

Mikey Marchese (Governor’s Academy), Reid Malatesta (Phillips Academy), Jake McManus (Belmont Hill), Calvin Beard (St. Mark’s) and Sean Connolly (Berkshire School) were others that stood out in the action.

The girls game proved much more defense-oriented, though had plenty of firepower to deliver a 10-goal game. Kayla McGaffigan of Tabor Academy led the win with two goals, opposite two goals from Austin Prep’s McKenzie Cerrato.

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