Garnet Greats Get Back on the Ice to Support One of Their Own

It’s been five years since Andrew “Chowder” Kranichfeld last skated. But there he was December 27 at the Playland Ice Casino, led by his girlfriend out on the rink prior to the start of the Chowder Cup, a hockey scrimmage to raise support and funds for its namesake.

Kranichfeld, a 2003 graduate of Rye High School, went blind last year after a brain tumor was misdiagnosed. The tumor was discovered only two days after his mother, who battled leukemia for seven long years, passed away. A form of germinoma, the cancer was eventually treated, reducing it from over three centimeters in size. Now, after all the 26-year-old had endured in the last year, it was exhilarating to be back on the ice.

“The fact that I couldn’t see made it even more exciting than it used to be,” said Kranichfeld. “The whole event was amazing and everyone had a good time. I got to say hello to so many people who I hadn’t seen in years. Rye is such a tight-knit community and my core group of friends and family have really supported me.”

Rye Hockey Alumni Game participants

Kranichfeld thanked his friend Eddie Urso for doing the legwork that made the Chowder Cup possible, as well as local businesses who donated gift certificates. He expected maybe 50 or 75 people to show, but was overwhelmed by the fact that more than 200 were in attendance.

The Ice Casino was also the scene for the inaugural Rye Hockey Alumni Game, another Kranichfeld benefit held five days before the Chowder Cup.

The Alumni Game pitted greats from the John Zegras era of Rye hockey against the younger generation coached by Kevin Kelly and, more recently, Jason Friesen. Peter Duncan and Mark Finnegan were captains of the old guard, which also featured Bob Holmes, and Gary and Gregg Zegras. Names like Jordan Eck, Matt Benincasa, TJ Smith, Marshall Rogers, Paul Fulendwider, and Taka Katsuta dotted the roster of the young guns. In the end, the Zegras-era “old guys” topped their youthful counterparts 8-6. John Zegras and Peter Thomas coached the teams.

For Kranichfeld, both events were a reminder of the support he has back home. He is adjusting to living with sight impairment with help from Lighthouse International, and although that entails re-learning basic things like crossing the street and getting mail, “Chowder” has maintained a remarkably sunny disposition.

“I think a lot of that has to do with my upbringing,” he said. “My whole family has always been lighthearted, and we all have that same sort of knack; we’re always laughing at things and having a good time.”

— Photos by Jim Byrne, Finn Mundinger, and Yuki Katsuta.



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