Kameron Cooke Memorial game set for Feb. 16

Eric McCarthy
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Raffle tickets being sold on a Sidney Crosby-autographed jersey, as well as sweaters from several other NHL, semi-pro and major junior teams

O'LEARY – Team Cooke has special reason for wanting to beat the cops in the Kameron Cooke Memorial Hockey Game Fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m., at O’Leary Community Sports Centre.

“It’s a fun game and it’s for Kameron. He would really like for us to win,” said Kameron’s dad, Kyle Cooke.

Kameron is a six-year-old boy who died Jan. 13 of a complication similar to a brain aneurysm. The son of Kyle and Brittanie (Handrahan) Cooke of Springfield West attended Grade 1 at Bloomfield Elementary and was an enthusiastic member of the O’Leary Novice A hockey team.

His jersey will be retired during a special ceremony prior to the start of the memorial game between the RCMP and friends and family of Kameron.

“I’m sure Kameron, looking down next Saturday night, will have a big smile on his face,” said Const. Jamie Jeffery, one of the organizers of the special game.

“And a few tricks up his sleeve,” grinned his Mom.

The Cooke family’s passion for the game was certainly shared by young Kameron. His family is looking forward to playing the game in his memory.

“Them doing all this really means a lot,” said Kyle. “It shows what a great community O’Leary, all Up West, the whole Island is. Everybody’s being unbelievable. It’s getting us through it, really.”

Kyle and his brother Kory are well known in the hockey community from their time with the Summerside Western Capitals and the O’Leary Senior Maroons. The hockey community all over North America has shared the Cooke family’s loss. Indeed, several NHL teams, as well as semi-pro and major junior teams are sending autographed jerseys, prints and sticks and game-worn equipment for a silent auction that will be taking place at the O’Leary Community Sports Centre all day on Feb. 16.

Raffle tickets are already being sold on a Sidney Crosby-autographed jersey, which will be drawn for late in the memorial game. Jeffery said he had hoped to sell 1,000 tickets at $2 apiece but interest has far exceeded his expectation. Potential ticket sales on that event alone could reach $7,000 before game day. The jersey was donated by the Summerside Boys and Girls Club. Another Sidney Crosby jersey was donated by the Pittsburgh Penguins and will be part of the silent auction. Crosby was Kameron’s favourite player. Kameron’s dad has played against the NHL star.

"Everybody’s being unbelievable. It’s getting us through it, really.” Kyle Cooke

Organizers expect to have 10 signed NHL jerseys. Teams sending merchandise include Montreal, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, and Detroit. Players contributing include Adam McQuaid, Dion Phaneuf and Nathan MacKinnon.

The friends and family team for the hockey game fundraiser will include several who’s who of O’Leary hockey said another of the organizers, Terry Stone, who will suit up with the RCMP squad. Kameron’s team will include his dad, Kyle, Uncle Kory, grandfather Barry, great-uncle Robbie and cousin Morgan Cooke and Brittanie’s brother Darcy Handrahan. Other players on the roster include Stephen and Simon Smallman and Darcy Harris.

While the Cookes don’t have a coach appointed yet, names like Randy Cooke and Elwood Cooke were bantered around.

The Cops, on the other hand, will be coached by Kyle and Kory’s junior coach, the legendary Forbie Kennedy.

Kyle is looking forward to that encounter. “He’s a good motivator,” he acknowledged. “He can sure make you feel you’re under the giant out there. He can get in your head and make you feel like you’re pretty awesome.”

A facebook page already had 477 people confirmed as attending the game and organizers are expecting to fill the rink.

“Unreal. It’s all about Kameron, too,” Kyle marveled about how people are responding. “He’d just absolutely love it. He just loved being at the rink, got along with everybody of any age, and if he saw everybody here (for his event) he’d just be tickled.”

Organizations: NHL, O’Leary Community Sports Centre, RCMP The Cooke Summerside Western Capitals Summerside Boys and Girls Club Pittsburgh Penguins

Geographic location: Springfield West, North America, Montreal Pittsburgh Ottawa Detroit

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