SLAP SHOT

Written By: Paula Maloney | Photography By: Brian Sager

The Cranberry Cup scores a hat trick for charities.

Islander Scott Corbett streaked across the ice under the lights of Christopher Nugent Bovers Community Rink. He split two defenders before firing a shot past the goalie — his second goal of the night — tying the opening match of the Cranberry Cup Hockey Tournament at four to four. For Corbett and his fellow Pudley’s Pub team, a ragtag squad of local firemen, contractors, realtors, designers and other Nantucket locals, the three-day Cranberry Cup is a time to relive their glory days on the ice, while facing off against former NHL greats such as Brian Leetch, Bill Guerin and Bryan Berard. They join twelve other teams who descend upon the island each fall with hopes of hoisting the coveted Cranberry Cup trophy by the end of the weekend.

Spearheaded fourteen years ago by brothers Zack and Grant Gund and their friends Bill Matthews and Hans Brigham, the Cranberry Cup is not your typical Nantucket charity event. This high-paced, scrappy hockey tournament has raised $1.5 million dollars for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, The Asperger/ Autism Network and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The Gunds started the tournament to benefit their father’s Foundation Fighting Blindness.

Sponsored by Faregrounds Restaurant’s owners Gordon Gund is the former owner of the San Jose Sharks among several other professional sports teams and business ventures and is today curing forms of blindness through the work of his foundation. In addition to drawing support for this charity hat-trick, the Cranberry Cup has become an economic boon for the island as it hosts more than a hundred players, their families and their friends in the lull of late fall.

Kim and Bill Puder, Nantucket’s Pudley’s Pub team had their work cut out for them this year, going up against the likes of Craig Adams, Russ Bartlett and Hugh Jessiman, all former Division I standouts who had careers in the NHL. Nantucket’s Dave Pekarcik, Bryan Larivee and Lindsey Knapp played brilliantly, while Corey Gammill slipped in between the pipes as a last minute replacement in goal. Lance Kelly, a former goalie turned right winger who has been involved with the tournament for the past fourteen years, captained the team. “When we are on the ice, we are out there battling,” Kelly says. “But once we are in the locker room, it is time to enjoy the camaraderie over a cold beer.”

After earning a tie in their opening game, Pudley’s Pub took on the Cape Ann Capital team, which was helmed by former Boston College captain Joe Harney and another collegiate great by the name of Jimmy Jasinski. “If we play like we did in the first game,” John Anastos told his Pudley’s Pub team, “we can win.” And he was right. With Corey Gammill stonewalling shots in goal and Gammill’s twin brother Cam dominating at center, Pudley’s Pub took the victory three to two.

The team then faced off against Kauai Ocean Edge. As the challengers took the ice decked out in dark blue uniforms and matching socks, Pudley’s Pub looked like they were up against stiff competition with Kauai. Although no teeth were left on the ice, the Kauai team beat Pudley’s Pub handily with a score of five to one. Despite serving as the local team’s only loss, the defeat was enough to knock them out of the tournament and postpone their Cranberry Cup dreams for another season.

For many, the allure of hockey is the scrappiness, the physicality and the dizzying pace of the game. No doubt that’s what keeps the players lacing their skates on Nantucket each fall. But even more so, the teams and spectators are keenly aware of why they gather in the frigid Christopher Nugent Bovers Community Rink. With slap shots and body checks, the Cranberry Cup increases the impact of the charities it supports year after year, which is obviously the ultimate goal.

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