Two years ago, Chicago Gay Hockey Association’s took part in one of the city’s greatest sporting moments. Now it’ll take the ice at one of Chicago’s most famous sporting venues.
On Monday night, the CGHA’s 50 or so skaters will split into two teams and play for an hour on a temporary rink set up inside Soldier Field. After being selected in a raffle, the group earned the ice time after it was able to sell 200 tickets at $45 for the Feb. 17 Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field.
“I imagine we’ll all be pretty energized,” said CGHA president Andrew Sobotka, who will be a defenseman Monday night. “I think just being in that space, looking up, having the lights on… I think it will be pretty exhilarating.”
The CGHA was founded in 2002 and has steadily grown in prominence, both in the Chicago hockey and Chicago gay communities. In 2010, after an invitation from the CGHA, then-Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel brought the Stanley Cup to Chicago’s Pride Parade. The CGHA subsequently hosted the Market Days Classic tournament in 2011.
Events like these, Sobotka said, have helped raise the group’s profile, both in the Chicago hockey and gay communities.
“I think that says something. We definitely have a lot of… in the hockey community we have a lot of friends in all the teams we play against,” Sobotka said. “We sort of partner up with them and work with them when we can to expand our reach.”
“In the gay community it’s sort of a similar thing. We do as many events and outreach sort of things that we can to get our name out there.”