In the three years since, the charity games have raised tens of thousands in funds for the Truro and Area Minor Hockey Association and brought big names like Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Zach Fucale to town.
On Saturday night, the Moose will return again to continue helping the local community.
“It was a common occurrence, I kept running into fans making the drive from Truro,” Russell said. “We have a huge fan base from the area, so this is a great way of saying ‘Thank you’ for supporting us. It’s nice to be able to give them that game.”
The idea started with Dave Higgins, a local hockey parent and co-owner of the Major Bantam Bearcats team. Higgins brought the Saint Mary’s Huskies to Colchester Legion Stadium for a series of exhibition games. When the RECC opened in 2013, Higgins decided to go after the Mooseheads.
Last year, Halifax played to a thrilling shootout win over the Saint John Sea Dogs, bringing veteran players like Fucale and Matt Murphy to the Hubtown.
This year, fans are likely to get an added bonus. Ben Higgins, a 16-year-old Bible Hill native, is still in camp with the Mooseheads after surviving the initial rounds of cuts. While Russell couldn’t confirm his roster spot for Saturday night, he did say he’d be surprised if Mooseheads coach Dom Ducharme doesn’t have Higgins in the lineup in front of his hometown crowd.
“Ben has turned some heads so far in camp,” Russell said. “He’s a small kid with a lot of speed and skill, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Russell said so far the camp has been one of the toughest the team has seen in years. With stars like Nikolai Ehlers, Drouin and MacKinnon now a part of team history, the door is open for the next generation of players to come in and steal a spot.
“There’s been a lot of nice surprises,” he said. “This really has been the most competitive training camp we’ve ever had.”
Three years ago, Dave Higgins went to the Mooseheads with the idea to help kids excel in the Truro and Area Minor Hockey Association. He hoped to give the kids a glimpse of where they could be someday. On Saturday, it’s likely the first product of their plan will be his son.
“I’ve been doing this a while now with the idea to help out local kids in the minor hockey system reach a higher level of hockey,” Higgins said. “It’s that much sweeter now that Ben is involved. It goes to show the value of what we are working for here.”
Tickets for the game are still available for $11 at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre or online at ticketpro.ca.