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Dal and SMU’s men’s hockey teams face off for charity

Third annual TomStrong Night raises funds for leukemia and lymphoma

Tom Lee watches from the Huskies bench
Tom Lee, middle, watches from the Huskies bench during TomStrong Night.   Jeff Toth

Wednesday was a big night for the Saint Mary’s Huskies, especially for assistant coach Tom Lee.

The Dalhousie Tigers and Saint Mary’s Huskies men’s hockey teams faced off at the Halifax Forum for the fundraiser TomStrong Night.

When Lee was being treated for lymphoma in 2013, Saint Mary’s University and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada partnered to create the event that carries his name.

TomStrong Night raised more than $15,000 in each of the previous two years.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada representative Kris Osmund said organizers are on track to top that this year. By the time the doors opened, $10,000 had already been raised.

Lee said, “I’m really glad Dal has embraced [this event] just as much as we have. Every family is affected […] by cancer.”

Head coach Trevor Steinberg approached Stanley Cup winner and regional director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Atlantic, Joe DiPenta, about starting an event four years ago.

DiPenta knew Steinberg from his playing days and they connected when Lee underwent a stem cell transplant.

“It’s evolved now to where we’re honouring more than just Tom, but other heroes in our community as well,” DiPenta said.

Before the game, he shared his predictions on how the teams were going to play.

“They’re coming up to playoffs … so I expect it to be a hard-fought game,” he said.

Though the game was the main attraction of the charity night, it was still a conference game. With only two games left until the end of the season, there was a lot of passion on the ice, including several scuffles.

The Huskies had a commanding 4-0 lead by the end of the first period. They held onto that lead throughout, finishing the game with a score of 9-3.

Lee was pleased with the win, but said the focus was on the money raised.

“It was well attended and that was the main thing. Anything to help raise funds for leukemia and lymphoma,” he said.

Breanna Lanceleve plays for the Saint Mary’s women’s hockey team and has volunteered at the merchandise table for all three years of the event.

“It’s nice to see all these people come out to support such an amazing guy and cause,” she said.

Lee choked up while expressing his gratitude for how the night went.

He said, “I want to thank Dal and all the family and friends who have come out to support this.”