ROME — John Stephens and Greg Smith decided to host a benefit hockey game more than a year ago.
The plan: Stephens, the mayor of Ilion and a retired Little Falls firefighter, would compile a team of firefighters to compete against Washington, D.C., firefighter Smith’s team — the D.C. Fire.
Stephens and Smith are old friends from when Smith was a firefighter for the Schuyler fire department nearly 10 years ago — and they both love hockey.
“We were just kind of talking and we said, ‘Gee, let’s do a game. Everybody seems to love the sport in this area. Let’s give it a whirl. Let’s see what happens,’” Stephens said.
The D.C. firefighters will travel to Rome to face off against a team of 20 Central New York firefighters in a game to benefit the Burn Foundation of Central New York, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization committed to burn support, awareness and prevention.
Stephens said he hasn’t set a fundraising goal, but more than 400 presale tickets have been sold and he hopes to sell another 1,000 at the door.
The game, called “Fire on Ice,” will start at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Kennedy Arena.
Stephens will be coaching the CNY firefighters — the CNY Flames — who come from departments in Ilion, Frankfort, Clinton, New Hartford, Remsen, Lake Placid and the Albany area.
The D.C. Fire hockey team plays in several charity games and tournaments across the country throughout the year. While Stephens’ team will be playing together for the first time, he expects the game will be competitive.
“We’ve got some talented people,” he said.