Aaron Volpatti Talks Hockey Day in Revelstoke and Upcoming Ironman Fundraiser for ALS

The 2nd annual Hockey Day in Revelstoke has been in full swing at the Revelstoke Forum since morning. The Revelstoke Minor Hockey league teams played multiple games throughout the day. Local hometown hockey hero Aaron Volpatti was at the forum answering the minor hockey players’ questions and enjoying the festivities.

Volpatti played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for several years with the Vancouver Canucks and later the Washington Capitals. Last year, the first Hockey Day in Revelstoke, marked the retirement of both Volpatti’s Revelstoke Minor Hockey and Revelstoke Grizzlies jerseys, with number 19 now at home in the forum’s rafters.

This year, he’s more than happy for the excuse to come to town.

“Growing up playing minor hockey in Revelstoke, it’s fun coming back and getting to relive those days and support minor hockey,” says Volpatti. “My family is all here. I have a lot of ties to the town and to the arena, so it’s pretty easy to get excited for Revelstoke’s Hockey Day and to come back.”

There seem to be more kids playing today than when he was in minor hockey, Volpatti is happy to note. When it comes to minor hockey, he stresses the importance of keeping the game fun.

“The biggest part is about having fun,” Volpatti says. “I think it is taken a little bit too seriously too early now; the kids are out there to have fun. I don’t know exactly what age you start taking it seriously, but at the end of the day you do it because it’s a game, and that it what today is all about.”

That love of playing the game, paired with determination, helped Volpatti get where he is. When he was nineteen and playing Junior A hockey, he was severely burned on over 35% of his body.

“It was serious enough that I almost didn’t have a choice as to if I was able to keep playing,” he says. “I was fortunate that the grafting I had done wasn’t over joints, because sometimes if that is the case you don’t have a choice. For me, it became a mindset thing where I said ‘I’m not going to let it stop me.’”

It didn’t stop him. Volpatti went on to play at Brown University in the National Collegiate Athletics Association circuit before he was called up to the NHL.

Currently, Volpatti is training for his first Ironman triathlon. The event also acts as a fundraiser for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a cause that hits close to home for him.

“Three years ago my dad was diagnosed with ALS,” says Volpatti. “I hadn’t had a physical challenge since retiring from hockey, so I realized I can do the triathlon for a good cause and, at the same time, challenge myself.”

Initially, his fundraising goal was set at $10,000. “It raised $3,500 the first day, so I think I’m going to have to up it,” he says.

The fundraiser’s success is a reflection of the community, he observes. “The sky’s the limit because this community is so tight and giving.”

To donate to help Volpatti reach his ALS Ironman goals, head to https://www.alsbc.ca/ironman-for-als/

Revelstoke Hockey Day continued after the minor hockey games finished. There was a two hour public skate and the Revelstoke Grizzlies are now playing 100 Mile House in the first of a home doubleheader weekend. The Initiation players will be playing a game in the first intermission.

Revelstoke Minor Hockey
Picture by Pauline Portas

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