Guardsmen closing the gap in the 21st WADS CANAM Hockey Classic

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Colette Muller
  • 225ADG

Airmen from the Washington Air National Guard's Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) and the Canadian detachment of WADS came together Friday for the 21st Annual CanAm Hockey Classic at the Sprinker Rink.

Spanaway, WA - The Western Air Defense Sector, located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is responsible for continuously monitoring the skies of the western half of the U.S. year round. The event has been a classic team building event for U.S. and Canada, whose airmen work side by side every day.

"It's a great way for the two forces to get out together and have fun," said Master Sgt. Shawn Montgomery, First Sergeant with the Western Air Defense Sector.

This year, the hockey game was more than just a team-building event.  In a new partnership, the event also raised money for the Tacoma Pierce County Habitat for Humanity.  Col. Mark Roberts, the Canadian detachment commander and Canadian team captain, wanted to increase involvement with the community.

"This is my third year here and we want to build upon the game each year," Col. Roberts said.  "Last year, we made it more of a family event. This year, we wanted to make a bigger footprint, to make a difference in the community."

After recently volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Canadian detachment has made them the unit's official charity. Kayla Reopelle, the community engagement coordinator for the Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat for Humanity and Ms. Monique Trudnowksi, honorary commander for WADS, co-owner of the Adriatic Grill and member of the Puyallup and Pierce County Chambers of Commerce joined in on the event, throwing out the
 ceremonial first puck along with Col. Ronald D. Harmon, Vice Commander for the Western Air Defense Sector.

"Col. Roberts has been amplifying our connection and community involvement," said Col. Harmon of the efforts of the commander of the Canadian detachment.

As the game began, both teams got off to a great start with a half-time score of U.S.A.  5, Canada 9.

"Over the years, it's gotten more serious.  It used to be just straight comedy because no one knew how to skate except the Canadians," said Master Sgt. Montgomery.

"For the first time in 21 years, the USA might have a chance at this one," predicted Col. Harmon.

The final score was Canada 11, USA 6.

Although Col. Harmon can't be called a prognosticator, the U.S. team performed much better than in previous years.

"Our guys weren't born with skates on," said Master Sgt. Lyla PaoPao . "While we get pacifiers, they get ice skates."

In total, the event raised $556 for the Tacoma Pierce County Habitat for Humanity.

"It's about family, community and WADS coming together," said Col. Roberts.