MANCHESTER, NH – With an almost empty SNHU Arena, Team Fire defeated Team Police in the 2020 CHaD Battle of the Badges on Friday night, 9-4.
For the first time in its 13-year history, the game was played without any fans due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus, the game streamed live online by WMUR-TV.
The event, which raises money for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchock Hospital (CHaD), took place without fans due in large part to follow Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health implemented guidelines limiting internal and organization-sponsored meetings and events to 50 people or fewer, based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations on social distancing to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.
“The Battle of the Badges is a wonderful event that rallies the entire state around our mission of providing compassionate care, family resources and advocacy for CHaD kids and their families, and we did not take the decision to shift the format of this year’s event lightly,” said Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO and President, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health.
In the game itself, Team Fire got off to an early lead, striking fire with a goal from forward Ashton Rome of the Salem Fire Department. Candia firefighter Jake Paulsen followed with his third all-time goal in Battle of the Badge games, with Gilmanton’s Matt McGilvray adding a third goal to provide a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The first-period goal from Team Police Team Captain Daniel Conley was joined by power-play goals from Hampstead Police officer Bryan Lamontagne and Dover’s Chris Plummer. The goal added to Plummer’s lead as the all-time leading scorer in the rivalry, putting him at 13 goals and 13 assists for all-time in 12 appearances.
Despite the power-play scores, the firefighters kept their two-goal lead heading into the second intermission. Rome added a shorthanded goal, with Conway firefighter and former Kennett standout Garrett Meador putting the puck above the left shoulder of Team Police goaltender William Morrow of Milford.
McGilvray added a second goal from the edge of the right faceoff circle early in the third, followed quickly with a goal by Kyle Manlow of the North Hampton Police to bring Team Fire’s lead back down to two goals.
Manlow’s score would be the last for the boys in blue, with Team Fire getting late goals from Goffstown’s Nickolas Nault, Rochester’s Micah Ruel and Kevin Crowder of Hollis.
Manchester had three police officers participate in the contest: Detective Shaun McKennedy and officers Matthew Blonigen and Kyle Daly.
Daly, Team Police’s assistant captain, raised $27,000 for the game through various fundraisers over the year.
This marked the fifth time Daly has played in the game during his six years on the force, and he said the lack of fans made it a unique experience.
“We feed off the fans a lot, seeing all the kids in the stands is certainly amazing, how they react to everything,” he said. “But we played the cards we were dealt and we took the loss tonight.”
Overall, this year’s event raised $192,000 for children in need, bringing the overall total to $2.71 million during the past 13 years.