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Firefighters converge at Moda for charity event

Portland Firefighters host a hockey tournament for cancer research

PAMPLIN MEDIA: DAVID BALL - Portlands James Cruz cuts into center ice to fire off a shot that would net the team its first goal and a 1-1 tie early in the first period against Boise on Friday.The intense mix of fire and ice is teaming up to raise funds for cancer research this weekend with the Portland Firefighters' annual hockey tournament hosted by the Portland Winterhawks.

The five-team tournament includes firefighter teams traveling on their own dime from as far away at The Bronx, along with teams from Los Angeles, Boise and British Columbia.

“You get a chance to hang out with other firefighters, who love hockey — it's a chance to make new friendships,” said Dan Richter of the Bronx squad. “Of course, you always want to win. Department pride is at stake. We were here two years ago, and it's nice to be back — Portland is a great city.”

Pool play in the tournament wrapped up Friday afternoon with the third-place game set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Moda Center with the championship game to follow at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

Fan can purchase tickets to the Winterhawks game against Kelowna later that night at 7 p.m. — $4 from each of those tickets will benefit Hockey Fights Cancer.

“It's just fun playing hockey, and we're out here for a good cause, too,” said Portland's James Cruz, who first tried the sport after being hired by the department five years ago.

Winterhawks coach Jamie Kompon and his staff put the local firefighters through a series of drills earlier in the week.

“He told us we could stay as long as we wanted, but after an hour none of us could breath, so we figured that was enough,” Cruz laughed. "It's not every day you get to play out here on this ice in a big stadium — it's special."

Some of those skills shined through early in a pool-play game Friday when Cruz carried the puck across the blue line, cut into the middle and fired from beyond the face-off circles to tie Boise 1-1 five minutes into the game.

“I closed my eyes and did my best — there's really not much to tell,” Cruz laughed.

Boise regained the lead before the first intermission and broke the game open with a seven-goal flurry in the middle period.

Portland netted its only other goal early in the third when Steve Blake won a face off to keep possession in the Boise zone. He skated to the front of the net where Cruz found him with a pass for a clean deflection past the goalie.

Boise left the ice with an 11-2 victory.

PAMPLIN MEDIA: DAVID BALL - Portlands Steve Blake sets up in the face-off circle during Fridays 11-2 loss to Boise at the Moda Center.

View a photo gallery from the game at daveball.exposuremanager.com.

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