Firefighters to take on police team in Guns and Hoses Charity Hockey Game
Local firefighters, including four from the Cape Coral department, will face off against police on Saturday at the Guns and Hoses Charity Hockey Game.
The fund-raiser kicks off at 4:30 p.m. at the Germain Area in Fort Myers. The Fort Myers Police Department will take on firefighters from eight different agencies, according to Lt. Joe Gugliuzza of the South Trail Fire Department. Gugliuzza is an event coordinator and a player on the team.
The firefighters’ team, which is made up of 17 players and one goalie, consists of the South Trail department, Cape fire department, Fort Myers Fire Department, Fort Myers Shores Fire Department, Lehigh Acres Fire Department, East Naples Fire Department, Estero Fire Department and airport fire personnel.
Engineer Jake Williams, from Cape Coral Fire Station No. 1, said he and the others participate for a variety of reasons.
“We do it for the fun. We enjoy playing,” he said. “We’re just not trying to give back to people who work in the same field as us but to the community as well.
“It incorporates both what we love and both what we do for work,” he said. “We’re giving to charities and doing things that are beneficial, and getting to play hockey.”
Firefighter John Pope of Station No. 4 said this is his second year playing.
“It’s just a lot of fun. It seems we get a pretty decent crowd and, of course, we get to play the police department, which is fun,” he said. “Other than that it’s a great game to play and a great way to stay in shape, to get your heart pumping.”
The police team is playing for a childhood cancer organization called For the Kids Foundation. Fort Myers police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn reported that the non-profit organization is dedicated to helping children with cancer cope with the daily regiments of being hospitalized.
The firefighter team is playing to raise funds for Assistant Chief Pete Gee of the Fort Myers Shores Fire Department. According to Gugliuzza, Gee has stage four colon cancer. The proceeds from the hockey game will help cover the costs associated with Gee’s illness.
“There’s been a need in the community. Over the years, different people involved in our agencies have fallen on hard times with illness or cancer,” he said. “Every year we look at who needs help and pick out one or two causes to dedicate the game to.”
Lt. Anthony Monte Ferario from Cape Coral Fire Station No. 2 agreed.
“Since the first time, it’s always been for a great worthy cause,” he said. “And it’s always fun to have that rivalry between police and fire. It’s always a good time.”
Monte Ferario said he does not know Gee personally, but his mother died of cancer so helping to raise money for Gee does touch him personal in a way.
“And just for the camaraderie between the police and the fire,” he said. “Try to have some fun and raise some money for a worthy cause.”
“Any time that you get a chance to help someone that’s in need, especially when it’s a brother in the department, you do what you can,” he said.
Gugliuzza said the group is looking to raise $3,000 to $4,000.
A couple of former Everblades players turned firefighters will play for the firefighter team. Three other former players have agreed to play on the police team to even the playing field — the police team has yet to win its first game against the firefighters, Gugliuzza explained.
“We have a history of beating the cops,” he said. “They haven’t beat us yet.”
Williams felt the extra experience this year could help the police team.
“I think it levels the playing field a little,” he said. “It’s only by good luck and fortune that we’ve had former hockey players come to be firemen.”
Monte Ferario said he is remaining confident.
“Every year it’s good teams on both sides, so it could go either way,” he said.
Tickets to the game cost $15 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated. The ticket price includes a tailgate party with a live band and admission to the Florida Everblades game at 7:30 p.m. The party will take place inside after the charity game. The band, Big Baddy, is a Cape father and his three sons.
According to Gugliuzza, almost 550 tickets had been sold between the police and firefighters as of Thursday. A handful of tickets may be available at the door if there are some left over. If there are no tickets available, people can buy a ticket to the Everblades game and gain entrance to the charity game.
“If they want to come, there’s going to be ways for them to get in, but we just won’t get a direct contribution from that,” Gugliuzza said. “There’s still avenues for them to contribute and participate.”
At the charity game, the police and firefighters will collect donations and sell T-shirts, as well as hold raffles, to raise additional funds for their causes.
“If people want to support us, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Gugliuzza said.
Operations Chief Jim Heikkila of the Cape Coral Fire Department will play goalie for the firefighter team at Saturday’s game. He said the game is a lot of fun, helps build camaraderie among the fire departments and supports a great cause.
Holding bragging rights over the losing team also does not hurt.
“I have a lot of friend on the PD,” Heikkila laughed. “I’m hoping for a very competitive game, and we raise a lot of money for the causes that we’re there for. It’s always a good rivalry between the police and fire.”