by Tim Bugaile || AHL On The Beat Archive
Despite their hectic schedule around the holiday season – the Lake Erie Monsters played nine games between Dec. 18 and Jan. 3 – the team stayed just as active in the community, making numerous appearances in the month of December alone.
The team was involved in reaching out to the greater Cleveland community, helping to pass out presents to underprivileged children, making a hospital visit and passing out Christmas trees, among various other charitable endeavors.
During the holiday season, eight Monsters players – Patrick Bordeleau, Trevor Cann, Ray Macias, Cedric McNicoll, Kevin Montgomery, Wes O’Neill, Tom Preissing and Brandon Yip – visited University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland to be with children who were not able to be at home during the holiday season. The players visited patients and staff, stopped for pictures and signed autographs for the children.
Right before Christmas, the team partook in two events that truly embodied the season of giving, as the players participated in a toy drive and a Christmas Tree giveaway.
Philippe Dupuis, Darren Haydar and O’Neill came to their home rink, Quicken Loans Arena, right before Christmas to team up with the Cleveland Cavaliers to host 40 families from Cleveland Christian Home’s Agape Independent Living and School Based Program for a special night at The Q. The families in attendance visited a Christmas Tree Farm set up inside The Q, and with help from the players, selected their own pre-lit trees and ornaments to take home. The players also helped decorate cookies, serve hot chocolate, sign autographs, take pictures and even went out and skated with some of the families.
Lastly, mere days before Christmas, Montgomery and Billy Sauer went to the Merrick House with the MonSquad and team mascot Sullivan C. Goal to help finish up this year’s Lake Erie Monsters Toy Drive. While Montgomery and Sauer posed for pictures and handed out toys to the children, the MonSquad and Sully helped kids decorate cookies and make Christmas ornaments.
So while the Monsters succeeded on the ice during the holiday season – the team went 7-2-0-0 from mid-December through early January – Lake Erie also gave back to the community, succeeding in spreading warmth and holiday cheer throughout Northeast Ohio.