February 4, 2024

Roughrider Foundation Winter Classic: Galloway saves the day for Team Lauther

SASKATOON — Anaheim Ducks legend Ryan Getzlaf, who has deked out many a goaltender, can also pull off a convincing fake away from the ice.

“We’re devastated right now,” the owner of 1,019 NHL career points said while feigning visceral disappointment after Team Lauther edged Team Getzlaf 11-10 in a shootout on Saturday in the second annual Roughrider Foundation Winter Classic.

The shootout winner was scored by placekicker Brett Lauther, who conceptualized a charity hockey game that has turned into a fundraiser for the Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation.

Lauther and former Roughriders receiver Chris Getzlaf (Ryan’s brother) were the captains on Saturday at Merlis Belsher Place.

Four goals by Lauther had helped his team assume a 10-6 lead, but the Getzlaf squad responded with four consecutive third-period — er, fourth-quarter — goals to force a shootout.

The second-last shooter was Ryan Getzlaf, whose unsuccessful attempt was followed by Lauther’s walk-off wrist shot.

“It’s the same thing that happens a lot — I didn’t score,” Getzlaf said when asked about the shootout miss by the Roughriders’ Social Lead, Tyler Daku.

“I begged the team not to let me out there, but they sent me, anyway.”

In he went on goaltender Adam Galloway, who made the stop while wearing George Reed’s number (34).

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Galloway, 27. “I looked up to Ryan Getzlaf while growing up playing hockey. To face him in a shootout is probably something that will never happen again.”

Galloway started playing hockey at age three and remained involved with the sport until he was about 15 or 16. Basketball then took precedence until, about a year or two ago, he debuted as a rec-league goaltender in Regina.

Then, at the invitation of Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation Development Manager Jonathan Halvorson, Galloway found himself in the Winter Classic.

As it turned out, he ended up staring down a world junior, Stanley Cup and Olympic champion.

“Coming in and stopping both Getzlaf brothers, I wouldn’t have put money on that, but he was unreal,” Lauther said. “He made some big saves and then made it easy for me.”

Galloway’s stellar stop helped Team Lauther record its second shootout victory in as many Winter Classics.

Roughriders receiver Mitch Picton scored the winner in the inaugural event, which was held on March 14, 2023.

Winter Classic 2.0 was played in front of 1,412 spectators, or roughly double last year’s crowd.

Gate receipts and sponsorships will allow the event to raise about $75,000 — three times last year’s amount — for Roughrider Foundation initiatives that are geared toward young people.

“We have a great player program in schools for mental wellness,” Cindy Fuchs, the Foundation’s Executive Director, said as Saturday’s faceoff neared. “Our players go all over the province and deliver mental wellness presentations to students in grades 4 to 6. They also encourage reading to students from kindergarten to Grade 4.

“Last year, they reached about 16,000 kids. In the last couple of months, they’ve reached another 5,000. A lot of those players are on the ice today, too, so they’re actually raising money for a cause they really feel passionate about.”

The lineup included six current Roughriders players (Lauther, Picton, Peter Godber, Jorgen Hus, Brayden Lenius and Noah Zerr) and three members of the team’s alumni (Chris Getzlaf, Jason Clermont and Andy Fantuz).

The list of celebrity participants also included two retired NHLers (Ryan Getzlaf and Byron Bitz), Saskatoon Blades assistant coach Wacey Rabbit, and both of this province’s university head football coaches (the University of Saskatchewan Huskies’ Scott Flory and the University of Regina Rams’ Mark McConkey).

The Huskies’ women’s hockey team was represented by Bailee Bourassa and Abby Shirley. They combined with Lauren Cromartie and Kirstin Geib to increase the Winter Classic’s female on-ice involvement to four players.

“I was able to take part in this last year and it was a lot of fun, so I knew it was something I wanted to do again,” Geib said. “Last year, I was actually the first female that was in it, and this year we have four, so it’s amazing.

“It’s a great foundation and I’m super-excited to be a part of it.”

Geib is a Saskatoon-based AgSolutions Retail Representative for BASF, the charity event’s presenting sponsor.

“My manager reached out to me and said, ‘Obviously, we have a lot of males who played hockey. I know you played a little bit of hockey. Would you be interested?’ ” she said.

“I have a little girl, so I thought, ‘What better way to show her a positive influence than to come out of my comfort zone and play?’ ”

The Shellbrook-born Cromartie, who starred for the Notre Dame Hounds under-18 female team before playing four seasons of NCAA hockey at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., was named Saturday’s first star. She, like second star Tanner Moar, was a member of Team Lauther. Flory, the third star, played defence for Team Getzlaf.

“We’re just making sure everyone has fun, from the NHL guys to the Rider guys to all the sponsors,” Lauther said. “It has been a great weekend.

“I’m super-thankful for the Club and the Foundation and everyone being crazy enough to listen to some of my ideas.

“We got it off the ground last year and this year it’s kind of flying. We’ve got the template and everything is a lot easier.

“It’s crazy to hear that it’s the second time. We’re a couple of days away from starting to plan the third one.”

In the interim, members of Team Getzlaf will have ample time in which to plot revenge.

“We just go back and feel shame for a little while,” Ryan Getzlaf said outside his team’s dressing room, “and then we get ready for next year.”