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Another successful Canada Life Sports Legends Classic

06 SEP 2017

By Brent Long

With Al Iafrate and Billy Smith providing back up and a few laughs, the team of Ryan Smith, Steve MacLellan, Michael Hilton and Jordan Wilton scrimmaged to victory in the 2017 Canada Life Sports Legends Golf Classic at Glen Abbey.

On the last Monday in August, more than 100 players laced up their shoes and took their best shot at taming the home of the RBC Canadian Open in Oakville, but when all was said and done, the MLSE Foundation came out the big winner as all proceeds were donated to the tournament’s new charity partner.

“I have been a big Al Iafrate fan all of my life. I had one of those table top bubble hockey games growing up and it was Big Al (Iafrate) against Little Al (MacInnis),” says Steve MacLellan, who paid $300 to purchase a Boston Bruins jersey signed by his childhood favourite in a live auction of player jerseys in support of the MLSE Foundation.

“To finally meet him and listen to some of his old hockey stories was really cool. It was a great day and Al still hits the ball a ton,” added MacLellan, who picked up a new TaylorMade driver along with his teammates for the four-shot victory at 16-under par.

“It was our first time playing in the event and it turned out to be a phenomenal day that could not have been better,” Smith added. “Both Al and Billy are super classy guys who like to have some fun and have some great stories about their playing days. We loved playing with them. They made a good team, a little better and made winning truly memorable.”

There was a two-way tie for second place at 12-under par between the team of Art Wilson, Trevor Wasney, Peter Walcot and Rob Townsend from Greystone and the team of Dennis Collins, Greg Adoranti, Carm Bonfiglio and Tony Vallencourt from Glen Abbey.

The highlight of the day for the guests were the holes played with NHL legends; Yvan Cournoyer of the Montreal Canadiens, Mike Gartner of the Washington Capitals, Wendel Clark of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Al Iafrate of the Bruins and Billy Smith of the NY Islanders, as they scored memories that will last a lifetime.


“This is my fourth time playing Glen Abbey and I love it. I first played it about 30 years ago, but it’s getting harder as I get older,” says Steve Geer. “That’s what is great about playing a scramble format. If I had been playing my own ball, we would have been looking for a lot of golf balls and I’m not sure how many we would have found. We also had a lot of help from Mike Gartner. I think we used most of his shots while he was with us. We could have used him for the whole round.”

“Glen Abbey is a fantastic course that has been on my bucket list to play for a long time. It has been an awesome day to be out here with the hockey legends playing it for the first time,” says Chris Pesce, who also played several holes with Gartner. “It’s a super day. We’re playing Glen Abbey with good friends on a beautiful day in August and helping to raise some money for a terrific charity like MLSE Foundation. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

MLSE Foundation believes all kids should have access to sport and the opportunity to both develop and pursue lasting dreams on the playing field. With the support of MLSE's teams and events like the Canada Life Sports Legends Golf Classic, the Foundation supports the refurbishment of local athletic facilities and funds charities that support kids through sports and recreational programs. Since launching in 2010, MLSE Foundation has invested more than $30 million into GTA communities. Last season, we impacted the lives of more than 125,000 kids.

While playing golf and chatting hockey with a NHL legend on the fairways at Glen Abbey is a blast, the hot-stove round table Q&A hosted by Sportsnet’s Ken Reid at the end of the day, proved to be insightful and hilarious, as the players shared some of their favourite stories.

Cournoyer subtlety reminded Leaf fans that he has 10 Stanley Cup rings, but his best stories are about the Canada Cup in 1972 when he scored the game tying goal that allowed Paul Henderson to score the game-winner. Billy Smith, who won four consecutive Stanley Cups with the Islanders, recalled the eight bench clearing brawls they had against the Philadelphia Flyers and summed it up this way, “We had more crazy people than them.” Gartner shared his memories and fear as an 18-year-old of his first fight against Joe Bilodeau of the Quebec Nordiques while playing in the WHA. Wendel reminisced about playing with Doug Gilmour in the early 1990s and Iafrate told a story about one of his coaches that can’t be printed here!

“It was a fantastic day,” said Jim Brownlee, a Senior Vice-President at Canada Life, who was attending the classic for the first time on behalf of the company. “It’s wonderful to be able to bring together a terrific group of hockey legends at a great venue like Glen Abbey to support our new charity partner, MLSE Foundation and all the great work they do in our local communities for children and families.”