Usually, officers with the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office are on the same side.
But not Saturday night, when officers and deputies from both departments went head-to-head at the Spokane Arena in a hockey game to benefit the children of the slain Lakewood, Wash., police officers.
“I have never seen a hockey game in my whole life,” said Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, who was one of the “coaches” for the SPD squad. Her lack of experience – she had no idea what a puck was, and once during the match she threw her hands above her head and shouted “Touchdown!” – didn’t seem to matter.
SPD beat the Sheriff’s Office 5-2.
“I think we were pretty evenly matched. They had just as many chances to score,” said SPD Capt. Frank Scalise. “But really, it was a bunch of guys skating their hearts out for the right cause.”
The game was the brainchild of SPD Officer Brad Moon, who wanted to do something to raise funds for the families of the four officers killed Nov. 29, when a gunman walked into a coffee shop and opened fire. Killed were Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42. They were in uniform, working on their laptop computers, preparing to start their shifts.
“In law enforcement it doesn’t matter where you are at, it feels like a family,” said Lakewood Detective Brian Danley, who came to Spokane Saturday on behalf of the 100-member Western Washington department. “I have three kids myself, and if something was to happen to me, knowing that the law enforcement community will pull together like this is just amazing.”
The Spokane Chiefs allowed the two law enforcement teams to play before Saturday’s game against Tri-Cities, asking ticketholders for donations. The Chiefs also held a silent auction of team memorabilia, with all proceeds going to the Lakewood Officers Memorial Fund. The benefit raised more than $7,000.
“It’s a unique situation,” said Daniel Jones, vice president of ticket operations for the Chiefs. “It was one of those things that just worked out, and it is such a good cause.”
Danley, who sat on the bench with the SPD team, was impressed with the turnout on the ice by both agencies.
“I can’t believe they had enough bodies to fill two teams,” Danley said.
The rules of the game were that only commissioned officers or reserve officers with some hockey experience could play. The SPD did allow Spokane County to recruit a few corrections officers from the jail, and some from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.
But even with the extra muscle from Idaho, the SCSO, coached by Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, couldn’t keep the SPD at bay. But any hard feelings were left on the ice. After the game, officers leaving the Arena were shaking hands and calling for a rematch.
Kirkpatrick stuck around to watch the Chiefs play, her first real hockey game, she said. She was still trying to figure out why one of her guys, Cpl. Jeff Schaal, ended up in the penalty box. It was the only penalty of the game, and sources said it was a “phantom” hooking call.
“They told me to challenge the ref so I did,” Kirkpatrick said. “But I still don’t know what he did. But it was sure a lot of fun.”