Students face off against police in community hockey game in Pembroke, Ont.

Police in Pembroke and students from Fellowes High School faced off Wednesday.

It happened on the ice, as the local high school boys’ hockey team faced off against OPP members.

The rivalry between the two groups was renewed at the Pembroke Memorial Centre for the first time since the pandemic. The goal of this game though, not necessarily to put the puck in the back of the net, but to build positive community relationships.

“We actually try to get into the schools more these last few days. We encourage our officers to go out in the schools and do foot patrol,” explains Mark Robillard, a patrol sergeant with the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP, and the game’s organizer.

“And in this way it’s a good way to have the community come together, get to know the kids, and maybe have a little fun doing it at the same time.”

“I think that’s a good thing,” says Austin Carson, a Grade 12 student at Fellowes, and a goaltender on the boys’ hockey team.

“A lot of people may think negatively towards cops sometimes, so this can change people’s opinions on them and show them that they are people too, so might as well have some fun with them.”

Players on the Fellowes boys’ hockey team range in age from 14 to 18 years old. For some of them, this game becomes their first face-to-face interaction with law enforcement.

In holding events such as these, the hope is that a foundation will be build for these students to have positive interactions in the future.

“It helps in terms of putting a face behind a suit and getting to see the OPP officers on a different level and environment,” assistant coach Will Mayes tells CTV News.

“So I definitely think it goes a long way in terms of building positive environments.”

“It can definitely be a positive factor in helping us with setting us on a right path,” adds Carson. “Knowing they’re here to help us and not to look down upon us almost.”

Despite the non-competitive circumstances of the game, both sides took the game seriously, with Fellowes walking out as winners 10-8 over the OPP.

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