If there was any time to have an all-star game for the Eastside Elite Hockey League it was this year.
And that’s just what founder Steve Oleksy of the EEHL is going to do.
“We have a lot of high-end guys this year and I thought it’d be a unique way to draw some attention to the league as well as raise some funds for the Mount Clemens Hockey Club,” Oleksy said. “All the proceeds are going back to the kids in the organization.
“I think it was a win-win situation,” Oleksy continued. “Guys are really excited about it and it gives guys a little something extra to play for in the league.”
The game will take place Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Mount Clemens Ice Arena.
This is the eighth season Oleksy, who was a member of the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins this past season, has run the league.
All eight years it has been run out of Mount Clemens Ice Arena.
“It’s going to be a great event,” Oleksy said. “I would really love to sell the place out. All the guys are really looking forward to it.”
The players selected to represent the EEHL, whose alumni include the likes of Detroit Red Wing Danny DeKeyser, Tampa Bay Lightning Matt Taormina and Vlad Namestnikov, Ottawa Senator Andrew Hammond and Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele, were chosen by a team vote.
Each team collaborated to choose the top three players from the other 11 teams in the league, besides their own, to play in the All-Star game.
“This helped avoid any fights in the locker room,” Oleksy laughed.
Twenty of the EEHL’s top players and four goalies will be picked to participate.
The top vote getters from the EEHL were Garret Ross, Matt DeBlouw, Shawn Szydlowski, Austin Grzenia, Alex Kile, Namestnikov, Oleksy, Thomas Apap, Taylor Fernandez, Brandon Hawkins and Nick Betz.
The goalies will be Charles Williams, Max Milosek, Jake Theut and Andrew Hammond.
Detroit Red Wing Dylan Larkin has also committed to play and a few others are trying to arrange their schedules to do so as well along with a couple of the Red Wing alumni players.
“Guys are really amped up and it’s kind of a cool feeling for me to be the guy to tell them they made the team,” Oleksy said. “They’re really taking is serious so how they have to play better to make it. It’s cool that they feel this way about it.”
Former EEHL player, Cooper Anstett, is flying in from Nashville where he’s embarking on a music career to do an acoustic set. His song, “Move,” is featured in a Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers commercial.
Anstett played in the league last season.
Oleksy wants to elect team captains and conduct a live draft over social media prior to the game.
Four hundred tickets were printed for the event. They’re $10 a person and kids five-and-under will get in free.
Tickets can be picked up at Mount Clemens Ice Arena or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org where they will be left at will call.
Along with vendor booths setup with products fans can demo, there will be 50-50 raffles and fans can bid on the player-worn jerseys after the game.
Along with an 11-team EEHL men’s division, there’s a four-team women’s division and a four-team Tier II division, which consists of midget and high school aged players.
The women’s division is in its fourth year and this is the second season for Tier II, which Olesky uses as a “call-up system” if a men’s roster needs a player or two.
“I love to watch the guys and the success they have,” Oleksy said. “It’s really fun to be a part of it.”
Goalie Cam Johnson, who’s participating in the league again this season, won a NCAA National Championship with the University of North Dakota this past season.
The league wraps up the first week of August.