NHL chipping in for tsunami charity game

BANGKOK, Thailand

Thailand's hockey players received a shot in the arm Tuesday after the National Hockey League offered to support their charity drive for Thai survivors of the Asian tsunami.

The National Hockey League has also pledged to donate money for goals scored as well as establishing plans for a larger charity effort that will be announced in the near future. "Our thoughts and prayers are with you," said Bernadette Mansur, head of NHL Communications, in an e-mail to the Bangkok Flying Farangs hockey club.

Farangs Captain Scott Murray told his players that Sunday's charity match - billed as "The World vs. Canada" - needed to be properly rehearsed with dignitaries and corporate leaders from around the world expected. He also urged the team to focus on the task at hand: raising as much money as possible for the desperate in southern Thailand.

Players from the Thai-World Hockey League and the Flying Farangs will hit the ice Wednesday for a "dress rehearsal" practice for Sunday's charity event. Murray - a Reg Dunlop-type motivator - will put his players through the on-ice paces before a team meeting on the steps outside the busy Bangkok shopping center that houses the rink.

Sunday's charity game, supported by Inetasia Solutions Limited, isn't about ice time, goals or assists, Murray said. It's about fund-raising for those devastated by the killer waves that killed 5,300 people and ruined the pristine south. Players from Canada will square off against those from the United States, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Japan and Thailand. They will lace up the skates to help thousands of victims without homes, schools, and parents.

More than 3,700 people remain missing from the catastrophe. A generous response is needed for the massive reconstruction effort ahead. But Thailand's hockey community is ready to jump the boards to help out. The Flying Farangs - "farang" meaning foreigner in Thai - have previously raised cash for Father Joe Maier's children's charity in Bangkok.

In 2002, the Farangs' international tournament took in a team record US$14,000 for some of the most disadvantaged children in the city. In 2004, US$10,200 was raised for impoverished kids at charity auction. The players are hoping this time around the generosity of families, friends, and hockey fans back in North America and Europe will shatter their previous fund-raising record.

"Many people back home have asked us how they can help," said Flying Farangs defenceman Rob Kennedy. "This hockey game is the ideal way."

For more information on the Bangkok charity game and donation process, please see the TWHL website: www.leaguelineup.com/twhl

One-hundred percent of donations will be given to those in need through the Red Cross Thailand.

The Kennedy family does its part for Tsunami relief

Scott Whitcomb (on the right in white shirt) was the driving force behind the game

Members of the ex-pat community joined the Thais in supporting the teams and Tsunami victims



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