A Game in the Name of Ryan Rudden

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This past Saturday, May 18 at the 108th Street roller hockey rink, the Rockaway Rockies held their 12th annual Ryan Rudden Tournament to celebrate the memory of the late Ryan Rudden, who played for the Rockies and was killed in a car crash in 2002 at age 17. All the proceeds from the event went to the Breathe Easy Foundation which raises awareness for Cystic Fibrosis.

“It’s nice to have people remember him,” said Rickie Lynne Rudden, Ryan’s sister, who helped organize the tournament. To make the event an even bigger hit, in addition to the tournament, there was a DJ to play music, a running grill cooking up food, and plenty of raffles with prizes ranging from a free oil change to Jets tickets and even a trip to Orlando, Florida.

The tournament included eight teams fielding players ranging in ages 18 to mid-60s from in and outside of Rockaway. They each competed in quick 30-minute games. Every player wore jerseys with Rudden on the back and Ryan’s number 11. “It’s young guns and old guys,” said Tom Kirby, a Rockies vet who doubled as both a player, and a referee for the games he didn’t play. A few of the teams, like the one captained by Bobby Keane, a court officer and longtime Rockies coach, were made up of Rockaway players. “They are just my friends, the ones that play hockey very well,” Keane joked.

Many of the teams were more or less thrown together too, with guys jumping from one team to another to help out teams who couldn’t recruit a full squad. Others threw together gear from different people for those who didn’t have it. “Once everyone realizes who it’s all for and where the money is going, everyone stepped up to do their part,” said William Burns, another one of the event coordinators and players whose son also laced up his skates for the tournament.

The Maroon team, which eventually won the tournament, was made up of some professional roller hockey players, including John Schiavo, who plays for the national team. (Yes, there is a national roller hockey team). “These are some of the best roller hockey players in the country,” Keane said. The tournament was just as entertaining as it has been in years past, with fast-paced hockey and high scoring games, some ending with scores in the double digits.

Of course, hockey was only one aspect of the event, as it was really about the community coming together for a good cause. Between entry fees for players, all of the raffles and donations, the tournament raised over seven thousand dollars for Cystic Fibrosis, a charity handpicked by the Rudden family for this year’s tournament.

“It would have meant a lot to him, bringing the community back to how it used to be with bringing people together,” Rudden said of her brother.

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