Pigs N Heat benefit hockey game returns after three-year hiatus

Catherine Huston

The Pigs N Heat benefit hockey game returned Friday, Feb. 17 in support of the Copper Country Police and Fire Relief Fund after a three-year COVID-19 hiatus. The game, played in the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, pitted local law enforcement, the Pigs, and local firefighters, the Heat, against each other in an exciting hockey game. 

The game began with the “B teams” (the Law Hogs and Leftover Heat) playing for 15 minutes. Halfway through, play was stopped to recognize award winners within the police and fire departments. During this break, the Pigs jersey number 55 was retired in honor of former Houghton County Sheriff Brian McLean, who passed away suddenly in 2021 after serving 26 years as sheriff. Play resumed once all the awards were presented, and a moment of silence was taken for McLean, ending 2-0 Pigs. 

After a brief intermission following the 1st period, the “A teams” (the Pigs and the Heat) hit the ice for 20 minutes. The teams wasted no time scoring, bringing the score to 6-2 by the end of the period. 

During the second intermission, there was a chuck-a-puck contest with a prize of over $250. The Hancock High School hockey team assisted with the event. 

Following the break, the teams kept the pressure on, both scoring several times. Several fights broke out, instigated by the Pigs, landing players in the penalty box. With 5 minutes left in the game, there was a break to announce winners of raffles, the 50/50, and cash prizes. Following the announcements, the game was resumed, and ultimately ended at 10-8, with the Pigs taking the win. 

The event had several fundraising aspects. Each ticket was five dollars and entered the holder into a raffle to win the top cash prizes. Superior National Bank & Trust, Superior Service Towing, and Lakeside Automotive donated $1,000, $750 and $500 respectively for use as cash prizes. There were also separate raffle tickets available for purchase for some 80 other prize sets, all donated by local businesses. Several firearms were raffled off, also by the purchase of different tickets. U.P. Ward Orthodontics sponsored a silent auction for a $6,800 orthodontic treatment package. 

All proceeds from the event go directly to the Copper Country Police and Fire Relief Fund, which serves local families in emergencies. Over the past 2 years, the fund has given more than $30,000 back to the community. 

When asked for comment on the event, current Houghton County Sheriff Joshua Saaranen shared that the game is the only fundraiser for the year and stated that the event is “a great time for law enforcement and fire to come together to play a fun hockey game, and it’s great for the community to be able to come and enjoy prized and kids events, and the camaraderie we all share with public safety.”