Hockey Helping Kids: Another Year Skates By

Posted 30 May 2013 10:03 AM by Randy De Meno

There's no "half-time" in hockey, nor half a goal scored in hockey, but a "half" is significant for Commvault as Commvault reached the half million dollar mark this season in our efforts to help children's charities and organizations throughout the USA through our Hockey Helping Kids (HHK) program. Our HHK program has come a long way since its humble beginnings back in Madison Square Garden in 2001 to our most recent event at the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis on April 23rd. We've had many sponsors throughout the years assisting us, but first and foremost, we have to acknowledge Microsoft, with several divisions participating this season — Windows Server (with a special shout-out to the GM of Windows Server, Gavriella Schuster), Windows Azure and Microsoft overall. It's easy to understand why they share our passion to give back to the community.

Hockey Helping Kids, By the Numbers:

  • Money Raised For Children's Charities Since 2001 — More than $500K
  • NHL & Pro Arenas Played In — 12
  • Varsity Record — 23-11-1

So, let's take a look back at our season, in reverse date order:

Tuesday, April 23rd, Xcel Energy Center, Home of the Minnesota Wild (vs. LA Kings)
Proceeds from this event benefitted Autism Society of Minnesota and Hendrickson's Foundation. The AuSM helps families battling Autism and Hendrickson's assists special needs children with social, cognitive, and motor skill disabilities by enabling them to play ice hockey.

Minnesota showed why it's a hockey hotbed as we almost warranted a call to the fire marshals when we outgrew the room capacity of 200. Our 3rd foray into the Xcel Energy Center was supposed to be a small, 150-person event, but it nearly doubled in size due to our history in Minnesota and when lots of former ex-NHL players descended on the "Home of the Wild" and joined our event.

The day started out with our largest and most spirited "JV" game, which included 40+ players, some of whom represented "Minnesota Special Hockey." Everyone played and the emotions ran high as we watched children with various disabilities sharing the ice with our Minnesota partner and customer hockey players. After the JV game, the dinner/event portion of the evening took place prior to the Wild beating the Kings. The event started at 5:00 p.m., and by 5:15 p.m., more than 200 of our customers and partners had arrived. Everyone swapped hockey stories, history and a lot of talk about Simpana® 10. Two emotional presentations from Lisa Kennedy from the Autism Society of Minnesota and Danny Hendrickson (yes, "that" Hendrickson royalty hockey family) of Hendrickson's Foundation explained how they're helping many children and families. The spirited auctions and raffles got some assistance from Minnesota Special Hockey. The varsity game was one of the most enjoyable we've ever had due to the involvement of the Minnesota Whitecaps (best USA-Women's National team) and eight ex-NHL players from Minnesota. The Commvault varsity team salutes and thanks the former pros, Stanley Cup Champions and Whitecaps for joining us and allowing us to share the ice with some of the best people on the planet to have ever played the game.

We also have to call out the Minnesota Wild organization and Cory Effertz in particular for making the event as special as it was and for continuing to welcome the "HHK" program in Minnesota.

Tuesday, April 16th, Wells Fargo Center, Home of the Philadelphia Flyers (vs. NY Rangers)
Our chosen charities were Philadelphia PowerPlay (wheelchair-assisted youth hockey athletes) and Temple University.

An NHL rivalry game, our largest event (more than 300), and an extra corporate game enabled our "home" event to surpass previous events in the City of Brotherly Love. Because the Flyers organization gave us a little extra ice time in the afternoon (big kudos to Tony Sukanick), we were able to sneak in an extra game with two companies who donated significant money to the charities. Bjork Builders faced off against D&M Auto Body in Game 1. The JV game followed, which included a number of kids, sometimes with their parents, sharing "Flyers" ice. We then moved to the dinner/event portion, where the room could barely hold all interested customers, partners and family members. Another spirited and humorous round of raffles and auctions were assisted by the Temple Women's Gymnastics team who helped sell raffle tickets through the large crowd. It was awe-inspiring to see how much the Brierre and Giroux autographed jerseys netted in the auction. The varsity game had a special edge to it as Commvault hosted the Team USA Maccabi over-40 team. The extremely fast-paced and entertaining game should help the Maccabi team who was preparing for international competition in a few months.

Thursday & Friday, March 21st & 22nd, Boston Garden, Home of the Bruins and the NCAA Division I Hockey East Playoffs
Our beneficiary was Courageous Sailing of Boston, an organization that introduces sailing and social activities to underprivileged and physically challenged youth throughout the Boston area. Microsoft's Mike Opal doubled as a key charity fundraiser and an excellent Boston Garden public address announcer.

A new NHL arena for Commvault, the Boston Garden (with apologies to TD Bank, because it will almost always be referred to as the "Boston Garden") was the 10th NHL city we've been lucky enough to visit. This was also our first "two-day" event and the first day saw our "JV" and varsity games take place. USA Olympic Gold Medalist Colleen Coyne put together one of the classiest and strongest rosters we've seen in the history of our events, with several Olympic Gold Medalists, Silver Medalists, ex-NHL players, Stanley Cup Champions and Boston "VIP" NCAA Division-I hockey players. Once again, it was a privilege to share NHL ice with some of the best people to ever lace up a pair of skates.

The second day brought us the NCAA D-I Hockey East playoffs and a chance to meet the folks from Courageous Sailing who do such a great job of introducing youth to the sport of sailing. Commvault, Microsoft and about 200 of our closest friends from the Boston area shared in the NCAA fun while raising some money and bringing awareness to Courageous Sailing in between the NCAA games.

Tuesday, March 12th, Pepsi Center, Home of the Colorado Avalanche (vs. Edmonton Oilers)
We returned for our second Rocky Mountain appearance and met a wonderful new charity — Front Ranger Hippo Therapy, an amazing organization that uses horses and other animals to improve cognitive and social skills in children. We hosted more than 170 Commvault/Microsoft friends, customers and partners. One lesson the Commvault varsity never seems to learn is that it takes more than a few hours to acclimate to Denver's thinner air!

Thursday, March 7th, Nassau Coliseum, Home of the New York Islanders (vs. NY Rangers)
Our beneficiary once again was the Long Island Chapter of Autism Speaks. We returned for our second event at the "old Coliseum," which has a couple of years left in its hockey life before the Islanders move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (and we plan to move right along with them). The Islanders organization made this another first-class event for Commvault, Microsoft and about 200 of our closest friends. Adding to the excitement of the evening was a game between long-time heated NHL rivalry, Rangers/Islanders. For those who have never been to a "Battle of NY" hockey game — you're missing a true cultural experience. About 50% of the fans in the sold-out building rooted for each team, which led to creative chants and full-throttle passion in the stands.

After a full Commvault "JV" game, both the NHL game and Commvault varsity games couldn't have been closer. First the Rangers won 2-1 in overtime on a power play goal. Not to be outdone, the Commvault varsity rallied from a 5-3 deficit entering the 3rd period to win 6-5 on a power play goal with 9.7 seconds remaining. We thank Muller Insurance for sponsoring and participating in this event once again and we look forward to the continuing this best-of-3 (or maybe 5 or 7) over the next few years.

February 12th, Cedar Park Center, near Austin, TX, Home of the Texas Stars (vs. Houston Aeros)
The beneficiary of this game was the Autism Society of Austin, TX. When the NHL was going through their early season labor dispute, Commvault took a chance and was wonderfully rewarded by trying one of our events at the AHL home of the Texas Stars. Instead of an early "JV" game, the Commvault varsity led a "learn-to-skate" session after a seminar at the arena. We then proceeded to the dinner/event and the Autism Society of Austin, TX generated some tears in the audience as they explained some of the services they provide to families in the Austin area. The spirited varsity game showed Austin has some talented hockey players and Commvault was lucky to escape with a 9-6 win. We look forward to exploring schedules to make a return visit to Austin next season.