Organizers and sponsors of last month's Operation Hat Trick ice hockey game in Atlantic City announce Thursday that the event raised $500,000 for Hurricane Sandy charities. Pictured, from left: Gary Loveman, CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment; Joe Watson, Caesars Entertainment vice president of national marketing; Don Marrandino, Caesars Entertainment Eastern Division president; and former Philadelphia Flyer Todd Fedoruk.

Photo by Mike Manger

ATLANTIC CITY - A pickup hockey game raised a half-million dollars for charity.

Caesars Entertainment executives and former Philadelphia Flyer Todd Fedoruk on Thursday unveiled a $500,000 check from Operation Hat Trick, the Nov. 24 charity hockey game at Boardwalk Hall. The money will be split three ways among the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, New York's Empire State Relief Fund, and the American Red Cross.

"This was something that kind of had to happen," said Fedoruk, a Mount Laurel resident who helped organize the game along with Joe Watson, the Caesars Entertainment vice president of national marketing.

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Caesars Entertainment president, chairman and CEO Gary Loveman attended the check presentation Thursday at Caesars Atlantic City. Loveman praised the more than 30 NHL players who participated in the game during the NHL's lockout.

"I think those of you who follow professional sports like I do know that when you need a professional athlete to help out in a pinch, the first call you ought to make is to a hockey player," Loveman said.

The event drew a sold-out crowd of 10,792 to Boardwalk Hall. The use of the historic building was donated by the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority. It was the first hockey sellout at the Hall since 1933.

"I knew the fans would come out to it," Fedoruk said. "They're passionate fans in the area of New Jersey and Philadelphia and New York and they showed up in droves to really support this cause. It was really an event that so many people benefited from, not only the victims but even the city of Atlantic City."

Indeed, Caesars Entertainment Eastern Division president Don Marrandino noted that bringing nearly 11,000 people to the city was huge for the local economy - in both the short term and the long term.

"The national media painted a pretty negative impression of the damage that Sandy put on us here," Marrandino said. "And we got this game covered in every sports section across the country because there's no hockey, so that was a great win."

The total donated could end up being more than $500,000. The auction of game-used, autographed jerseys from the event did not end until late Thursday night.

"Let's hope that this goes a long way toward helping everyone in need here," Loveman said.

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