New York Rangers take on Boston in inaugural Alumni Classic

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New York Rangers take on Boston in inaugural Alumni Classic

New York Rangers Official Twitter

New York Rangers Official Twitter

New York Rangers Official Twitter

Nadia Starbinski, Editor-in-Chief

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Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Brad Richards, and other esteemed New York Rangers alumni faced off against fellow Boston Bruins legends in the first-ever Alumni Classic at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

The exhibition game was played in support of the Rangers Assist program before the current Blueshirts met its Original Six rivals for the first time this season on home ice at 7 PM. 

The Rangers Assist program was developed by the New York Rangers and its Alumni Association with the mission to help grow youth hockey in the Tri-State area.

The organization teams up with local programs to “increase access to the game of hockey, break down barriers to entry, introduce games to new players, and keep hockey growing and vibrant in our communities,” according to the profile on NHL.com.

“It’s just a celebration of hockey,” said Adam Graves, Rangers ’94 Cup winger. “At the end of the day, what better way to put sticks in kids’ hands then by getting out there and playing yourself. It’s always a privilege to be on that ice.”

The alumni game featured Hall of Fame players and seven members of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champions.

It was a clean game with no hitting or slapshots, consisting of two 30 minute periods and a running clock.

Team USA’s star forward, Amanda Kessel also skated alongside these greats.

 Kessel serves as the ambassador for Junior Rangers’ Girls Hockey program.

“It’s awesome just being part of the Rangers organization,” Kessel said to the New York Post. “They do everything first class, so I’ve been really welcomed. I was really honored that I was able to have a chance to be out there.”

Boston’s Ray Bourque was among the three Hall of Fame blueliners that took part in Sunday’s festivities. 

Between Leetch and Bourque are seven Norris Trophies and one Conn Smythe, and both are members of the National Hockey League’s 100 Greatest Players list.

Fellow 100 Greatest, Brad Park, who, like Leetch, played on both sides of this rivalry, was on the Ranger’s bench as a coach and participated in the ceremonial faceoff.

The Rags also featured Jean Ratelle, Dave Maloney, Ron Greschner and Rod Gilbert as the coaching staff.

Though New York lost 5-3 in the benefit game, the players were happy to be back on the Garden ice.

“To see all the same guys who have worked here for the last 25-30 years. It’s like coming back home, like one big family,” Leetch said in a post-game interview.

In the nightcap, Boston prevailed yet again, winning 7-4.

After leading 1-0, Mike Zibanejad exited the game after a suffered upper-body injury late in the first.

New York never seemed to recover.

“Whether that took the wind out of our sails or not,” Head Coach David Quinn said, “we never found a way after that, that’s for sure.”

Boston produced four unanswered goals in the second to steal the lead.

The Blueshirts now sit at 3-5-1 and 28th overall following the loss.