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North Park charity game takes hockey outside

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Two heated rivals faced each other for a night of friendly competition and fundraising at the annual Ice Storm game earlier this week.

The Pine-Richland and North Allegheny hockey teams played each other in three matchups, varsity, junior varsity and alumni, on Dec. 30 at the North Park Ice Rink.

The event, in its third year, combines healthy competition and raising money for a good cause.

“It's to bring the two communities together and just have a great night of hockey,” said North Allegheny head coach Jim Black.

Partial proceeds from this year's event will go to the Kevin Kenny Fund. Kenny, 20, of Sewickley, is a junior league hockey player with the Pittsburgh Vengeance and a 2013 Quaker Valley graduate.

He suffered a severe spinal-cord injury at a game in November, and the fund was created to help with medical costs and future necessities for Kenny and his family.

The accident hit home with the hockey community in the North Hills, said Pine-Richland head coach Mike Bagnato.

“We've all had kids who've played. This could happen to anybody. It's just a freak thing,” he said.

Black's son, Cody, also plays for the Vengeance and is a close friend of Kenny's. After Kenny's accident, Black said, it was clear what charity the Ice Storm would benefit this year.

“The hockey community is a special community,” he said. “It's full of tight knit players and they rally around things like this.”

More than $47,000 already has been raised for the Kevin Kenny Fund at gofundme.com.

Although the rivalry between North Allegheny and Pine-Richland is fierce, many of the players and families know one another, so having the Ice Storm game over the holiday break from school is a good way to get everyone together.

“It's been a blast,” Bagnato said. “Our kids really enjoy it, which is why we do it.”

The game was played at the outdoor ice rink at North Park, which rekindled some important history, Black said. He and Bagnato began playing hockey outside at North Park, as did many others, he said.

“That's really where hockey in Pittsburgh started, in outdoor arenas in the early '70s,” Black said. “So we're getting back to the grass roots.”

For more information on the Kevin Kenny Fund or to donate, visit www.helpforkevinkenny.com.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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