In the wake of their son Andrew’s death in 2007, Bob and Kathy Gauthier came up with the idea for a scholarship fund and several events to support it.
The flagship event was a hockey festival, a full day of games to bring together friends, family and the local hockey community.
On Sunday, the Andrew J. Gauthier Festival gets underway for its fifth year. It’s still going strong, just as the Gauthiers envisioned.
“I’m not surprised at all – this is what I thought we could do,” Bob Gauthier said. “Just because of the people involved and the people supporting it. We have a lot of strong-willed, big-hearted people making this happen.”
The fifth annual event gets underway at 11 a.m. at Thayer Arena, and as usual, it features a full slate of games. Warwick Vets takes on Narragansett in the first game of the day, followed by the Warwick girls taking on the La Salle girls at 12:45 p.m.
Next comes what Gauthier considers the highlight of the day. At 2:30 p.m., Becker College plays Stonehill in a Division III Eastern College Athletic Conference tilt.
Gauthier expects the game to be a good one and hopes it draws some fans in search of good hockey. A college game is a rare treat for Thayer Arena and Warwick.
“The college game is really going to be the highlight,” Gauthier said. “It’s been quite a long time since there’s been a college game in the building. It should be pretty exciting for the kids and the fans to see that game.”
The match-up between Becker and Stonehill will also be a homecoming for the Gauthiers’ oldest son, Bobby. A Warwick native and a Hendricken grad, Gauthier is a senior forward for Becker.
“We’re pretty excited to have him playing in the festival,” Bob Gauthier said.
The rest of the festival schedule gets back to high-school action, with Toll Gate taking on South Kingstown at 6:15 p.m. and Pilgrim playing Prout in the Hap Mathews Game at 7:45 p.m.
“It’s 10 hours of good hockey,” Gauthier said. “It should be exciting.”
The festival will have plenty of off-ice features as well, from raffles to merchandise sales to the always-popular chuck-a-puck competition. Alex and Ani will also be on hand selling jewelry, with a percentage of the proceeds benefiting the scholarship fund.
At 5 p.m., friends, family and current players will take the ice for the annual ceremony to remember Andrew.
With the Patriots playing the day before and nice weather in the forecast, Gauthier is hoping for a big crowd – and another good day of hockey.
“This is our main scholarship drive,” he said. “Everybody knows what it’s all about now, so we’re hoping to have the community continue to support us and help us keep Andrew’s legacy alive.”