Sports

Halifax hockey rivals Huskies, Tigers come together for leukemia lymphoma research

The Saint Mary’s Huskies scored big on and off the ice Wednesday night.

Not only did they top the Dalhousie Tigers 7-1 in AUS men’s hockey action, but along with 1,400 fans inside the Halifax Forum, they raised more than $20,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, in honour of assistant coach Tom Lee.

Lee himself was behind the Huskies bench, leading the Huskies to their third straight win, but inspiring the home and visiting teams alike.

As part of a seven-year battle with mantle cell lymphoma, he underwent a bone marrow transport last season. He’s now dealing with a bout of graft-versus-host disease as a result of his body rejecting donor cells.

“It was touch and go, whether I was going to make it or not,” Lee, who has helped coach Saint Mary’s to both AUS and CIS titles over six seasons, said following the game.

The Huskies hosted their first Tomstrong Night last February, to help raise funds for blood cancer research and lift their longtime coach’s spirits.

“They’ve done both,” the father-of-four from Fergusons Cove said. “It gives me a great sense of … humanity, to see two teams that are battling against each other, for the same cause.”

Saint Mary’s goalie Anthony Peters, who made 27 saves against Dalhousie, said while the win was important, the bigger focus was giving back to the night’s cause, which was represented with a splash of lime green to go with the usual maroon on their jerseys.

“It’s coming down to the end of the season, so obviously the guys are excited,” the fourth-year player said of the win that gives Saint Mary’s a 19-4-3 record on the regular season.

The Huskies have already clinched a playoff spot, while the Tigers are in seventh place with a 6-20-1 record.

“To have the effort we did today just goes to show how much we care about Tom,” 24-year-old Peters said. “He’s got a lot of love for this team.”

Saint Mary’s certainly came out strong Wednesday, scoring three straight power-play goals in the first period, from Ben Duffy, Steven Shipley and Michael D’Orazio, respectively.

Mitch Evelyn scored the lone goal of the game for Dalhousie midway through the second, but Francis Menard of Saint Mary’s replied again with the man advantage to make it 4-1 after 40 minutes.

Jeff Marchand, Kyle Pereira and Bradley Greene sealed the 7-1 Huskies win in the third.

While Lee is well-regarded for pushing his players, the now cancer-free coach said his fellow team staff and “the 20 guys in that room, they keep me motivated.”

“They help keep me alive."