About 2-thousand local hockey players are about to lace-up for the 11 Day Power Play

June 23 - July 3 at LECOM Harbor Center
The 6th annual 11 Day Power Play returns to LECOM Harbor Center Thursday, June 23
The 6th annual 11 Day Power Play returns to LECOM Harbor Center Thursday, June 23 Photo credit Mary Brennan, 11DayPowerPlay.com

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) The 11 Day Power Play Community Shift returns to LECOM Harbor Center this week for the 6th annual event. For the past two years, during the Covid pandemic, the fundraiser was held outdoors at Buffalo Riverworks.

"We're back and so excited to welcome 86 teams," said 11 Day Founder Amy
Lesakowski on WBEN Tuesday morning. The 11 day event starts with an opening celebration Thursday night at 7pm.

"Harbor Center, (located next to KeyBank Center, downtown), gives us a lot of space and a lot of movement. The players love the setup in the locker rooms. We have the whole 7th floor where you can oversee the rink. We also have a family fun zone area."

New this year is a Rink of Hope where people can come down and fill out pucks in memory of and in honor of loved ones.

Buffalo fights cancer, one shift at a time is the theme of the event. Eight million dollars has been raised since 2017 for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Camp Good Days and Make a Wish.

"Buffalo is the city of good neighbors and a huge hockey town," said Lesakowski. "You put those two together, and the fight against cancer is incredibly important to so many people in our community. This gives hockey players an outlet to support loved ones that they've lost or are honoring. In the past 6 years, we've sent 485 kids to camp. We've help grant 160 wishes through Make a Wish and we've raised more than 4.3 million dollars for research at Roswell Park."

Teams will be on the ice for a three-hour hockey game that doesn't stop. The event runs 24/7 from Thursday, June 23 through July 3rd.

"It's constant," added Lesakowski, who founded the event with her husband Mike, after her own battle with cancer.

An event this size requires a lot of volunteers. "We always run it with about 300 volunteers. This year the number is less, because we have more volunteers working more shifts. They love it so much, they're picking up multiple shifts. But we still have some openings. We need referees, and people to help with merchandise sales. You can find a volunteer application HERE.

In addition, a special initiative is being held this year. The 11 Day Power play is partnering with Victory Sports Outreach, collecting gently used hockey equipment to help people in the community who cannot afford equipment. "On levels 6 and 7, right off the elevators, we will have bins for donations. Victory Sports will be picking it up daily and cleaning them and getting them ready for people who may be picking up hockey. Anything hockey related will be accepted," added Lesakowski.

The forecast for the opening weekend is a hot one. Lesakowski says "come on down and chill with the 11 Day."