The Dover Air Force Base All-Stars will take on the McGuire Air Force Base All-Stars from New Jersey in the second annual charity hockey game at noon Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia. Last year's event raised approximately $1,500, and proceeds this year will benefit the Combined Federal Campaign and the Air Force Assistance Fund.


    To some, the Wachovia Spectrum in Philadelphia is nothing more than a building, a place that was once home to the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, and now houses minor league hockey, indoor soccer and various other events.

    To others, however, the Spectrum is holy ground. It is where in the 1970s the Broad Street Bully Flyers made hockey the focal point of the city’s sports pulse.

    It was on that ice the Flyers restored dignity to a city starved for a winning team, leaving trails of beaten and bruised opposing players in their path.

    This Saturday that historic ice surface will play host to the Dover Air Force Base All-Stars as they take on the McGuire Air Force Base All-Stars from New Jersey in their second annual charity hockey game.

    Airman First Class Jason Melendez, 436th Maintenance Squadron, a forward who also played in last year’s game, said being able to skate on the ice in a building like the Spectrum is an overwhelming experience.

    “It was great, being able to play in an arena like that with all the history, knowing some of the greatest players ever in the NHL played on that ice,” Melendez said.

    A Tuscon, Ariz., native, he said after last year’s game concluded, he learned more about the history of the building, which adds to the excitement of playing there again.

    The game will be at noon Saturday, Jan. 31, and those who purchase tickets also will be allowed to attend the Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, game at 7:05 p.m. that evening.

    All proceeds of the event, including ticket sales, will benefit the Combined Federal Campaign and the Air Force Assistance Fund, which supports Air Force family members.

    Last year’s event raised approximately $1,500, something he is hoping can be bettered this year, according to Senior Master Sgt. Donald Kimball, 712th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

    “The ticket for our game gets you into all of the events that day at the Spectrum,” Kimball said. “It’s a good cause and a fun time.”

    In 2008, the Dover AFB team, which features players from the active duty 436th Airlift Wing, the Air Force Reserve’s 512th Airlift Wing and base civilian personnel, beat McGuire 9-4.

    Even though Melendez said he would like to repeat last year’s victory, just being able to hold the event and participate in it is a win already.

    “To be able to play the greatest game in the world for such a great cause, it doesn’t get any better,” he said. “I’m there to skate and raise money. I wish I could do this every day.”

    Melendez said he sees the event as one of the best things both bases could do to raise money.

    “It’s a great game,” he said. “Kids get to come see their parents play hockey, and then get to see some minor league hockey after that. It’s a day of great fun for everyone involved.”

    A limited number of tickets still are available and can be purchased for $15 by calling 677-6040.

Email Brian Citino at brian.citino@doverpost.com