Devils ‘Sweep the Deck’ for a Good Cause

Over a record $1.1 million dollars was raised for the Devils Youth Foundation in the team’s signature fundraising event

Tomas Tatar scrutinized his two cards with a raised brow, lightly lifting them under covered hands. He sat at a Texas Hold ‘Em table with the flop showing a 9 of hearts, King of spades and 3 of clubs.

As he turned to discuss other matters with a patron to his right, a swift-handed Yegor Sharangovich pilfered two of Tatar’s chips from the left flank. Tatar swiveled his head around, catching Sharangovich mid-act.

“This is what happens when you let your guard down,” Tatar smiled. Sharangovich laughed and returned the rations. It was all in good fun. And all for a good cause.

The friendly card game was part of the “Devils Sweep the Deck Gala” – the team’s signature fundraising event – in support of the Devils Youth Foundation, which was held Tuesday night at Prudential Center. Upwards of $1.1 million dollars was raised, a new record for the DYF.”

This is pretty special. We haven’t had it in two years, and I’ve been dying to do this event again because it was pretty amazing the first time,” Devils Youth Foundation Chair Allison Blitzer said. “(The money raised) helps at least 50,000 children in New Jersey and Newark. We have so many community partners that we love to support and want to support them even further. They’re really helping these kids find their path, and where they want to be. They have every right and deserve the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. That’s what our community partners are all about. We want to raise as much money as we can to help as many kids as we can.”

The Devils home ice was transformed into a curling rink and casino lounge with a ski lounge chic setting. The entire Devils team as well as alumni took part in the event.

“You look around, being able to bring so many people together here at the Prudential Center, you’ve got curling, you’ve got casino, and it’s all for an incredible cause for the Devils Youth Foundation,” said Devils, Prudential Center and DYF President Jake Reynolds. “The Devils organization is a family, and the opportunity to give back to the community of Newark and New Jersey where we live, work and play is just an incredible opportunity to bring people together for an incredible moment.”

“It’s beautiful in here between the curling and cards options,” Devils Youth Foundation Executive Director Kate Whitman Annis said. “it’s just a really fun relaxed evening that we can spend together, and in community, and building up our community in Newark and beyond.”

The ice, typically emblazoned with the Devils logo and game markings, had lanes and bullseyes superimposed for attendees to practice the art of the curl. Several players joined in the fun, including captain Nico HischierDamon SeversonOndrej Palat, Jepser Bratt, Dawson MercerFabian Zetterlund and Jesper Boqvist. But the person who stole the show was head coach Lindy Ruff, who hit the ring on three consecutive tosses, showing his prowess in the sport.

“I was OK,” Hischier laughed. “I wasn’t too upset with my first two tries.”

Among those trying their luck at the poker, Texas Hold ‘Em, roulette and craps tables were Ryan Graves and Miles Wood, who tested their hands at Blackjack. Kevin Bahl and Alexander Holtz gave a toss of the dice. While a small contingent annexed the Hold ‘Em table, including the aforementioned Tatar and Sharangovich, who were later joined by Vitek Vanecek and Bahl.

All the chips won (or playfully stolen) were exchanged for one-of-a-kind sports and entertainment experiences.

Meanwhile, Hischier also tried his hand behind the bar. Although he spent most of his bartending duties taking pictures and speaking with attendees, he did manage to pour the occasional drink.

“It’s such a great event and great to see,” Hischier said. “Look around and so many people are here supporting the event for a great cause. That’s what we are here for as well. It’s an easy-going event with great people here. It’s super casual. We’ve got music. You can play games. It’s a fun night.”

Additionally, there were musical performances from the Jazz House Kids, Newark Boys Chorus School and Devils’ anthem singer Arlette. Auction items featuring autographs memorabilia from Muhammed Ali to Mickey Mantle to Josh Allen to the Beatles were being bid upon.

All in all, it was a festive night for all that took part. And everything was done in the name of charity.

“(DYF) brings life-changing opportunity to New Jersey’s youth through the power of sports and entertainment,” Whitman Annis said. “Our big partner is Hockey in New Jersey, which is bringing hockey for free to kids in Newark and six of the surrounding towns, over 1,000 kids right now. We’re excited to partner with them and events like this make that all possible for us.

“This has been a record-breaking event. We are so thankful for our partners, especially Prudential Financial, Allied Beverages and Ticketmaster. They’ve been wonderful partners forus and we’re thankful to them for making this possible.”

Other partners include Ice Hockey in Harlem, Boys & Girls Club of Newark, Newark Community Street Team, New City Kids, Newark Day Center, Arts Ed Newark, Special Olympics New Jersey, Community Foodbank of NJ, La Casa de Don Pedro, GreenLight Newark, Save the Music, Big Brothers Big Sister and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Corporate partners included Phelps Construction, RWJBarnabas Health, K&B Bagels, Newark Venture Partners, Main Street Movers, Provident Bank, Citizens Bank, Smiths- Detection, Fidelity Dealer Services, Securitas, Champion Container, South Shore Construction, Johnson Kendall Johnson, Inc., ABI, Prestige Medical Sales LLC, Brandscap, Gotham Communications and the NHL Foundation.