The 2023 edition of Battle of the Badges is right around the corner, and after a several year absence due to covid the first responders are ready to finally suit up and hit the rink.

The RCMP and Strathmore Fire Department (SFD) will once again battle for bragging rights, with EMS playing on both sides. The last time they played was in 2019 and the SFD took home the trophy, but RCMP Constable Randy Romkey said this time, the police will have the last laugh.

"The game plan is to try and turn around the obvious bad luck that we had the first game because that's the only reason we figure we lost it, had to be luck. That's what we tell ourselves anyway, it makes us sleep better at night," he said with a laugh.

"In all fairness to the Fire Department, they did deserve to win the game, they played a good game. But it's not going to happen twice in a row, we're ready for them this year," he added.

As for the SFD, firefighter Erica Barnson said they're not going to make it easy for the RCMP, and they've been scouting out the competition during their weekly friendly shinny matches on Sunday night to see if they have any tricks up their sleeves.

"We'll keep an eye on the RCMP as much as we can as well. And we just keep polishing the trophy and making sure it stays nice and clean because we want it to stay in that spot in our hall," Barnson said.

While the rivalry is heating up as game day gets closer, both Barnson and Romkey said at the end of the day it's all about having fun, bringing the community together, and raising money for charity.  

"Just going and having fun and enjoying the atmosphere that we hope will be created. It will be a festive atmosphere out and we want to partake in that for sure," Romkey said.

"It will also be nice to work with local charities as well because all proceeds from this Battle of the Badges are going to School Fuel and Strathmore District play school," Barnson added.

While raising money for charity is the biggest benefit of the game, Romkey added it's really nice to have the opportunity to engage with the community outside of their role as first responders.

"It's nice to be able to interact with the public without having the pressure of the badge behind you," he said.

"It's also nice to engage with them (the public) when they're not having a bad day themselves. If someone's calling 911, it's usually not for a good reason, so it is nice to interact with the public in a way that is positive and everyone's having fun instead of worrying about what's happening," Barnson added. 

On top of the excitement of watching our first responders battle on the ice, there will also be a 50/50 draw, a raffle, and live entertainment during intermissions to make it a special event for the community. You can also donate at the door to help raise funds for the charities, and that's just based on how much you're able to donate. Even if you can't afford to donate anything Romkey encourages everyone to come anyways, as it's a community event and he wants everyone to have fun and enjoy a great hockey game and event.

The game will take place on March 26 at 4:00 P.M. at the Strathmore Family Centre Arena.

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