Hockey Day in Laval raises funds for breast cancer research

By Michelle Pucci

The seventh annual Hockey Day in Laval welcomed soldiers from Edmonton and Laval to play alongside students at Laval Liberty High School two weeks ago.

The event commemorates Laval Liberty alumnus and soldier Chris Karigiannis, who died in Afghanistan in 2007. Karigiannis was a sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI), an Edmonton-based regiment that works with the Laval high school’s leadership program.

“The students thought that it was kind of too late to get to know [Karigiannis],” said David Rossi, a teacher and leadership coordinator at Laval Liberty. “It was more important to befriend the soldiers that were his friends, while they were alive serving this country.”

In addition to building ties to the regiment, Hockey Day in Laval is coordinated by high school student councillors and Laval Liberty’s leadership program to raise funds for charity.

Money raised this year will be given to Pink in the City, a breast cancer awareness charity run by graduates from Laval Liberty. The money will go specifically to the oncology centre at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Vanessa Pellicciotta, a Grade 10 leadership student at Laval Liberty, said involvement in the program and working with the regiment has always been important for her.

“[Sgt. Karigiannis] means something to a lot of us,” she said. “That’s why when our schools merge we want to name our school after him.”

The Alberta soldiers faced the Laval-based 4th Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment, the “Van Doos” as the main event. Minor leagues and school teams from Laval faced-off throughout the day as well.

Laval Liberty’s school flag is hanging in Edmonton, and the 3 PPCLI flag can be seen in the high school’s hallway. The school’s ice rink is named in Karigiannis’s memory since the event’s third edition.

Former students have visited the base in Edmonton, and soldiers have been involved in the school’s leadership camp. They’ve even created a scholarship for one of the graduating leadership students.

“There’s always an effort to keep that relationship alive,” said Rossi.

“He was an outstanding soldier, very dedicated to the military,” said Major Dennis Maringer from 3 PPCLI. “He was a guy that never quit.”

Maringer described company tactics with Karigiannis in Wainwright, Alberta, where the group was preparing for live fire.

Karigiannis was company commander of the tactic, responsible for the group that was dropped in and digging trenches in their t-shirts in the Alberta heat.

Overnight, the temperature dropped to -20ºC and the unit was expected to leave the trenches and perform the tactics the next day.

“I remember hunkering up to this Coleman stove and boiling water,” said Maringer. The soldiers were pouring Gatorade into the hot liquid because of the cold, trying to get our electrolytes back up.

“I remember looking at Sgt. Karigiannis, and he said back at me ‘We’ll get through this sir!’” said Maringer, laughing.

The photo shows some of the participants in the annual event, including the two regiments’ teams (PPCLI in white, R22R in the Hab’s jerseys).

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