Buckskill Winter Club To Host 'Hockey Night in the Hamptons' This Sunday Night - 27 East

Buckskill Winter Club To Host ‘Hockey Night in the Hamptons’ This Sunday Night

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Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.'    KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.' KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.'    KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.' KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.'    KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.' KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.'    KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.' KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.'    KYRIL BROMLEY

Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, the site of Sunday night's 'Hockey in the Hamptons.' KYRIL BROMLEY

Drew Budd on Feb 14, 2023

With his father, Captain Ward W. DeGroot, being a Vietnam war veteran, Douglas DeGroot jumped at the opportunity to help host “Hockey Night in the Hamptons,” a fundraiser in support of veterans that takes place at he and wife Kathryn’s Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton this Sunday, February 19, from 6:30 p.m. to midnight.

DeGroot admitted that he was a bit leery when he got “cold called” by Sam Schacter, founder of the Barn Mice Hockey Club, based in Queens, and who is cohosting the event. But once he did his research on the Ronkonkoma-based Association for Mental Health and Wellness, which the event supports, he felt it was the right thing to do.

“What I found out is that the organization helps Suffolk County veterans specifically, and with my father being a veteran himself, we obviously appreciate their service to the country,” said DeGroot, a Bridgehampton resident. “A lot of them have fallen on hard times. And so when they came back and told me they were dealing with Vietnam veterans specifically, we were totally into it.

“And we already give a big discount in ice time to our first responders,” he added. “We have had a group from the Air National Guard in Westhampton reach out trying to get ice time, so we’re always trying to help out.”

The one-night, round-robin hockey event will be played by four amateur hockey teams, nearly 50 players, from both New York State and Connecticut. Schachter also said that players from the Long Island Warriors, a hockey team made up specifically of combat veterans, will also be participating.

Schachter said he came across Buckskill through making a connection with Bryan Wish, who runs the Southampton Ice Rink. Schacter’s Barn Mice came to play a few games out in Southampton, and when he broached the subject of hosting a fundraising hockey event, Wish mentioned that maybe Buckskill was more suited. Schachter then officiated some games at Buckskill, which is the only outdoor, NHL regulation-sized rink on the East End.

“I fell in love with it immediately, and thought we could really do something great here,” he said. “It took a while to make a connection, but once we did this past September, and once I mentioned it would be a charity hockey event for veterans, Doug and his wife have been so gracious and generous along the way. We’re really excited about it.”

The event is raising funds through online auctions and raffles during the weeks before the games and also that night. The effort will support two veterans programs that re part of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness, including eight homes in Suffolk County for formerly homeless and at-risk veterans. Case managers provide assistance with health and benefits coordination as well as support and guidance toward employment, education goals, and housing permanency.

The Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project, which utilizes veteran peers to engage with other veterans who have struggled since their transition from active duty to achieve healthy, stable lives as civilians in their respective communities, will also benefit.

These programs have served thousands of veterans, helping to minimize hospitalizations, sustaining families, providing gainful employment, securing or preventing homelessness, promoting daily health and wellness, as well as educating thousands within the civilian community regarding the needs of veterans.

Among items being auctioned are a helmet signed by former New York Rangers goalie and Olympic gold medalist Henrik Lundqvist, a week-long timeshare in St. Maarten, a hockey stick signed by current New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller, brunch for four at the Southampton Inn, and many other valuable prizes.

Auctioned and raffled items are being provided by the New York Rangers, MHAW, the Long Island Ducks, the Metropolitan Riveters of the Premier Hockey Federation women’s hockey league, Oyster Bay Brewing, Stephen Talkhouse, Southampton Inn, Hal’s Seltzer, Roofmaster NYC, Fanatics, Haymarket Books, Beer League Republic, Essential Sequential, photographer Ruth McDade and many others.

Interested parties can take part immediately in the online auctions and raffles by visiting hockey.mhaw.org.

There is no charge for attending the “Hockey Night.” Although DeGroot said he will open his snack bar for those in attendance, attendees are invited to bring their own snacks and nonalcoholic refreshments.

A benefit concert in support of MHAW will be held at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett the night prior, on Saturday, February 18. Guitarist/songwriter Corey Nill will play from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for those not taking to the ice in the following night’s games. The club will be offering a drink special.

Schacter, a social worker in Queens who is privy to a lot of the issues pertaining to returning veterans, said he found through MHAW that the most veterans of any county in New York State — 72,000 to be exact — reside in Suffolk.

“I found out doing some of my own research that MHAW focuses on issues pertaining to real human needs and not so much the nationalistic pride that some other programs tend to do,” he said. “They’ve identified what veterans are really struggling with, which is housing, food insecurity, mental health recourse and peer-to-peer counseling and dealing with trauma of getting back to civilian life and humanizing these veterans, which oftentimes are not done well.”

“We’re grateful to hockey players statewide for their support for veterans, who often face substantial mental health challenges,” said Scott Bradley, board vice president of MHAW and a Marine Corps major who served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. “Veterans are five times more likely to face depression than civilians, and their rate of post-traumatic stress disorder is nearly 15 times higher. Funds raised from this event will help veterans lead more secure lives.”

Both DeGroot and Schachter said that if all goes well this weekend, it could be an annual event and possibly more could be added throughout the year.

“We would love to do that. Of course, the big question is, how long can we continue to play hockey outside in the winter months?” Schachter said. “I would love to continue to work with Doug and Buckskill and grow this into an even bigger event. We have had conversations with local NHL alumni on doing an event. These things tend to be hard to get off the ground at first, but once they do they, tend to sort of run themselves. And we’re hoping that happens here. We would love to continue to do this. There is a lot of potential and there are a lot of veterans who need our help, especially in New York, and especially in Suffolk County.”

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