Knights set to host Canucks alumni in charity fundraiser

Stars of Vancouver's 1994 squad will be in Langley in a charity exhibition game on January 4

Clockwise from above: Kirk McLean

Clockwise from above: Kirk McLean

Just two members of the Langley Knights were alive during the Vancouver Canucks memorable run to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals.

Of course, Blake Gorrill and Levi De Waal likely don’t remember much considering they were both just in the first few months of their lives and had yet to discover hockey.

But the pair and the rest of their Knights teammates are getting set to suit up against some of the Canucks stars from that ’94 squad, including forward Cliff Ronning, goaltender Kirk McLean, and defencemen Jyrki Lumme and Dave Babych.

The junior B Knights will play the Canucks alumni squad at the George Preston Recreation Centre on Jan. 4.

Also confirmed playing for the alumni team will be Garth Butcher and Garry Monahan.

The team will be coached by Orland Kurtenbach — the team’s first captain — and Dennis Ververgaert.

The game is being organized by John Craighead — the general manager and coach of the Knights and a former pro hockey player himself, who also spent some time in the Canucks organization.

Craighead also plays on the Canucks alumni team so he will turn over the coaching reigns to his assistants for the game, trading his jacket and tie for skates and a stick,

Proceeds raised from the game will go to Sophie’s Place, a child advocacy centre, and the Centre for Child Development.

“They have an unbelievable centre in Langley and Surrey,” Craighead said.

“I love their cause.”

Helping children holds a special place in Craighead’s heart.

His older sister Margaret, passed away in 1998 after a lengthy drug addiction battle.

“She just got mixed up with the wrong crowd and unfortunately, she got hooked and didn’t get out in time,” Craighead explained.

The Craighead family helped get Margaret’s two boys removed from her care.

“We didn’t want them in that environment and she didn’t last much longer than that,” he said.

This was at a time that Craighead was still trying to make his way in the pro game.

His professional career went from 1992 to 2005 and includes five NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I always figured if I could make the NHL, I could make good money and save her,” he said.

“(But) you can’t save a victim of a disease like that unless they agree to help themselves.”

Following his sister’s passing, Craighead and his wife Wendy, took in their nephews. Ryan is now 21 and Ian is 23.

As for the game itself, fans will be treated to a pre-game meet-and-greet autograph session at 3:30 p.m. prior the 5 p.m. game. The post-game banquet begins at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets for the banquet ($40) are nearly sold out but there is still space for the game itself. Those tickets cost $10.

Craighead was thankful for all those who have stepped up, which includes 24 sponsors, and an abundance of silent auction items. Signature Catering will provide the dinner.

For tickets, go to www.langleyknights.ca, call 604-534-1285 or visit the Knights box office on game days.

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