BUFFALO -- As the members of the Falls Police Department hockey team sat in a Harbor Center locker room last July they could barely move.
They had just completed four hours on the ice in their first-ever appearance at the 11 Day Power Play, a community fundraising event to support cancer research.
"That four hours was tough," Falls Police Capt. Dave Kok, who helps coach the department team, said. "After three and a half hours, you start cramping up and it's tough to keep going."
But as the officers peeled off their uniforms and their gear, and nursed their muscles, they knew they'd be back this year.
"The second we were done with that four hours, we were sitting in the locker room and we said, 'We should do this again'," Officer Adam Licastro recalled.
So Tuesday, 19 Falls officers, and a civilian volunteer to give them a second goaltender, suited up and took to the Harbor Center ice again for the 2019 edition of what is rapidly becoming one of Western New York's most popular charity events.
"It's getting bigger every year and becoming more recognized," Kok said, "and everyone said we should do it and everyone wanted to do it."
In their first year of participation, the Falls cops raised $4,000 for cancer research. This year they collected more than $6,000.
The entire event, this year, is projected to hit the $1.6 million mark in donations.
"Cancer has touched so many people's lives," Licastro said, "so any chance we get to support a good cause, we're there."
Kok said Licastro and fellow Officer Travis Maggard took on the task of coordinating the fundraising efforts of the team and making sure that the mountain of paperwork required to play in the event was completed and handed-in on time.
"You've got a lot of guys working a lot of different shifts you have to keep track of," Licastro said with a laugh. "But it's worth it."
And Kok said the event organizers, Mike and Amy Lesakowski, reduced the length of the game shifts this year to three hours instead of four. He also said the Lesakowskis make sure that the players have plenty or food and water available and even have athletic trainers on stand-by.
"The three hours was more manageable," Kok said.
The 19 Falls officers divided up into two teams and played three 50 minute periods.
"That's what made it really fun," Kok said. "It's fun to play against guys you know. We love playing and we get after each other."
Licastro said that camaraderie and the love of hockey will keep the Falls Police team coming back to the Power Play event for years to come.
"We love playing against each other and we all love playing hockey so as long as they're doing this and as long as they'll have us, we'll be there," he said.
For Falls Police Superintendent Tom Licata, the teams charity play is just another example of his officers giving back.
"You know, they decided to do this on their own. No one ordered them to do it," Licata said. "So hats off to them for doing that for the community."