Firefighter brings home the gold

It is a little known fact that many of our first responders are involved in many activities other than keeping us safe day in and day out.

Not too long ago, Beach Metro featured the garden of Peter McAdam as part of the Beach Garden Tour. McAdam has been a firefighter for many years and has recently become an avid gardener.

Another example is Mark Ruddy (left), a firefighter at station 226 on Main Street and occasionally at station 227 on Queen Street. Ruddy is an enthusiastic ice hockey player, and recently travelled to New York City to participate in the World Police and Fire Games.

The Toronto Fire team was comprised of Toronto firefighters, with a few out-of-towners, and coached by Hans Leppick, a retired chief who Ruddy said “made sure the ship was going the right way” and that the “beverages” were kept cold.

The tournament is held every two years and features sports in addition to hockey such as track and field, swimming, judo, and the ever popular pocket billiards.

Toronto Fire started strong and after an 8-0 victory over Edmonton Fire in the Round Robin, they were off to the quarter-finals where they defeated Montreal 4-3 in a close game.

After easily defeating Calgary Fire in the semis, they moved on to the big game against Russian Home Affairs.

“It was a little intimidating watching the Russians roll in in their big Mercedes grey bus all decked out in their track suits and blue shoes,” said Ruddy of their stone-cold opponents. It was the Summit Series all over again.

As the game progressed, the Russians realized they were in for a tough challenge against Toronto. “They were like a pro team, and dominated all the games until they met us,” said Ruddy, who scored what turned out to be the game winner.
With two minutes left in the third period and Toronto Fire up 2-1, Ruddy recalls the last goal.

“I grabbed the puck at the line, turned around, and this big Russian came sliding at me. I side-stepped him and passed it to my other winger, Blackie, who buried it in the net and we knew we had it.”

And they did, bringing back the gold.

Ruddy is very grateful for the opportunity, and thankful that District Chief Paul Cormier, who scouted the players, selected him for the team. He also acknowledges the stellar performance by their goalkeeper, Ken Sherman, who allowed only six goals during the tournament.

During the games all athletes showed a great deal of camaraderie to each other as well, according to Ruddy. “One of the nicest things players do is they exchange shirts throughout the games.”

“But I didn’t feel too good when the Russian goalie was crying during our National Anthem after the medal ceremony,” Ruddy said with a slight smirk on his face. “I went over and gave him a hug, though.”

The next games are in 2013 and will be held in Belfast, Ireland. Ruddy is poised to participate again, and defeat those Russians…again.

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