ITHACA, N.Y. –– For the past five years two teams have come together to face off in an exhibition-style hockey game benefiting Ithaca’s Racker Center. This year, the Racker Rivals and Big Red faced off to raise funds for the Racker Center off the ice in a four week fundraising competition that ended in the highest total revenue in the fundraiser’s history.

The Racker Rivals Big Red face off has in the past drawn crowds to see notable hockey players who are also Cornell alumni or Ithaca natives such as two-time Stanley Cup winner Dustin Brown and Hockey Hall of Fame member Joe Nieuwendyk who both played in last year’s game. 

This years game concluded on July 15 with a grand total of $157,200 raised –– making it the highest grossing competition in the fundraiser’s history. In all six years combined, the face off fundraiser has raised almost $720,000 for the Racker Center. All the funds raised by the Racker Rivals and Big Red supports the programs and services Racker provides for people with disabilities in the community. 

Team Racker was coached this year by Greg Hartz, President and CEO of Tompkins Trust Company, and Team Cornell was coached by Cornell Big Red men’s hockey coach Mike Schafer. Pledging ran from June 15 through July 15, with players battling for their team to take the top spot. 

The game was a nail biter until the end, with a tie on the scoreboard when the clock ran out. Pulling into the lead at the last minute by just a few hundred dollars, the trophy this year went to Team Big Red, with a total raised of $49,481. According to a press release, “Team Racker did not make their win easy” –– the score was virtually tied for the final week of the competition. 

The press release about the event goes on to say that, “Racker is humbled by the outpouring of support at a time where many local nonprofits are feeling the strain of the pandemic. We are in awe of the generosity of so many in our community that dedicated their time and money to make this event successful, particularly our Cornell Hockey family that makes this event possible.”

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at