In name of fallen brothers, troopers take on Utica police on ice

Jessica Ryen Doyle

Trooper David Brinkerhoff and Utica police Officer Thomas Lindsey were linked even before Saturday night's hockey game at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, which benefited memorial foundations for the slain law enforcement officers.

The game featured the New York State Troopers versus the Utica Police Department. The team of Utica police won 10-8.

When Lindsey was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Cornhill on April 12, 2007, David Brinkerhoff's SWAT team responded to the investigation, said his wife, Barb Brinkerhoff, 33, who lives in Coxsackie.

Less than two weeks later, on April 25, David Brinkerhoff was also killed in the line of duty.

“He was always sad; he wanted to help out,” Barb Brinkerhoff said Saturday night as she sat with her daughter, Isabella, 16 months. “You always feel a loss when a brother is shot and killed.”

Barb and Isabella Brinkerhoff and two of Lindsey's relatives - brother Arthur Lindsey and 4-year-old niece Julieann - ceremoniously dropped the puck before the game started.

“This is great,” Barb Brinkerhoff said of the game. “I was born in Utica; my dad is from Utica and he went to Utica Free Academy. My mom was from New Hartford, so there is definitely a connection. Dave never skated a day in his life, but he loved the Buffalo Sabres.”

The idea for the benefit game came to Investigator Anthony Salerno and Trooper Joe Nitti last fall and the community was more than receptive, said Nitti's wife, Arlene, who was in charge of raffles and tickets Saturday night.

“All the proceeds will be split evenly between both names,” Arlene Nitti said. “Each side can determine how to use it.”

More than $3,200 had been raised before the doors opened Saturday, Joe Nitti said, and a final total will be available sometime next week.

“People are paying more than $5 a ticket,” Arlene Nitti said. “They are not asking for their change back. It's terrific.”

The crowd was enthusiastic, especially after seeing two troopers rappel from the ceiling alongside a large American flag during the singing of the national anthem.

Fans recorded the act with cameras as kids shouted out, “Wow!”

“I always want to learn more about hockey,” said Kyle Moylan, 8, of Utica, when asked why he came to the game.

“We know a few of the (Utica) policemen, so we bought some tickets,” dad Richard Moylan said. “The fans are great - and we're even cheering the troopers on.”

During the intermission, the Mohawk Valley Little Pioneers skated.

“I might be on TV!” said a wide-eyed R.J. Shafer, 5, of Frankfort, of why he was excited. “I want to be a goalie someday. The goalie tonight caught the puck and it bounced off his face!”

On a more serious note, Marilyn Gugnacki of Utica said coming to the game was a way of showing respect to the men and women in uniform who patrol the streets.

“These police officers, they have a lot of people they have to watch out for,” she said. “They need the support of the community.”

Karen Adamcyzk of Whitesboro agreed.

“I don't think there's always enough respect for them,” said Adamczyk, whose boyfriend is a Whitesboro police officer and whose daughter is planning to take the state trooper exam this year. “We need more events like this.”

Overall, the game was a success, despite losing, Joe Nitti said.

“We're having fun, and it's in the memory of all the fallen officers,” he said. “This is something to link their memories. They were linked from the beginning.”

Lindsey's memory will live on in another way, Arthur Lindsey said. He and his wife are expecting a baby boy in April, whom they plan to name Thomas.