On July 14 at 7 PM, BC and BU hockey alumni will face off in the 3rd annual Comm Ave Charity Classic. The CACC raises money for Compassionate Care ALS and the Travis Roy Foundation, both of which are important causes for the Boston hockey community.
The Comm Ave Charity Classic was created by former BC hockey players Pat Mullane and Andrew Orpik along with former BC hockey manager Justin Murphy. Mullane was inspired to start the event after witnessing the success of Ryan Shannon’s annual summer game to benefit people suffering from spinal chord injuries. Once he decided to start his own event, Mullane said that supporting ALS care and research was an easy decision. “To be able to honor [former BC SID Dick Kelley and former BC baseball player Peter Frates] was a no brainer for us and something we take a lot of pride in,” Mullane told BCI. After a successful first event, the decision was made to add the Travis Roy Foundation as a beneficiary of the funds raised. Orpik noted that it is easy to find players to participate in the event because “between BC and BU you won't find many, if any, players who don't know Travis' or Pete's stories.”
“Anytime you can get a group together, especially high level professional athletes to support a great cause, you know you're going to have a fantastic event,” said BC hockey alum Patrick Brown, who has participated in every CACC to date. He also mentioned that it is important for him to make time for the game each year because Dick Kelley and Pete Frates both make him proud to be an Eagle.
When asked about participating in his first CACC, former BC hockey captain Chris Calnan said that it was important to him to get a chance to support some of his idols, including “Pete Frates and the Frates family, for what they have overcome and the endless perseverance they have shown, Pat Mullane and Andrew Orpik for their incredible devotion to the cause and community service, and then the guys on the ice who have had very successful careers in hockey.”
The BC/BU rivalry is, as Mullane said, “the best rivalry in all of college hockey.” The unique relationship between BC and BU players and fans helps to make the Comm Ave Classic particularly successful. “It is unique because the majority of guys grow up playing against each other,” Mullane observed, further pointing out that “the schools are in such close proximity that it only heightens the rivalry.” The fact that many former Eagles and Terriers stay in Boston or return to the city during the summer to train also makes things easier when putting together rosters for the game. Mullane also mentioned “the inherent sense of loyalty—especially with one of their own” among Bostonians as a reason the game is able to raise so much money.
Neither Mullane or Orpik expected the CACC to become quite as successful as it has. Mullane remembers not sleeping at all the night before the first Comm Ave Classic in 2015 before showing up to the rink “and looking at a near sell out at Walter Brown and watching Pete Frates get a standing ovation and thinking to myself, ‘Wow, we really created something special here.’” Orpik noted that they have become much more efficient over the past three years, making the event run more smoothly. As the event continues to grow, Orpik hopes that it will become feasible to move it to a larger venue because “more people in the door just means a larger amount of money given out to important causes.”
When asked about what makes the 2017 Comm Ave Charity Classic special, both Orpik and Mullane mentioned Jack Eichel and Charlie McAvoy. Mullane is excited for fans to see Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau competing against each other for BC and BU, while Orpik pointed out that having players ranging in age from from his brother, Brooks (BC ‘01) to Charlie McAvoy (BU ‘17) shows “how committed so many of these guys are to giving back.”
Calnan closed things out with a sentiment shared by most of the players and fans that will be in attendance on July 14. “Everyone involved with this game is a huge inspiration to me in different ways,” he said, “I am thrilled to be a part of that and can't wait to soak it all up and do what I can to help.”
(Buy your CACC tickets here.)