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Ire over Ruff fine to benefit 5 charities

Two fundraising efforts held as a show of support for Lindy Ruff after the Sabres coach was fined by the National Hockey League have taken in $11,100 for charity.

Pesci's Pizza in Clarence will donate $10,000 to four local charitable foundations. And a Ruff fundraiser held at Casa-di-Pizza brought in $1,100 for the Food Bank of Western New York.

"Our customers are allowing us to do things like this," Pesci's owner, Chris Phillips, said.

Pesci's had pledged to contribute $10,000 to any charities of the Sabres' choosing. The money amounts to 10 percent of the pizzeria's sales over the past six weeks, Phillips said.

At the request of Ruff and the Sabres, Pesci's will donate $2,500 each to the Buffalo Sabres Foundation and to the Steadfast Foundation created by goalie Ryan Miller.

Pesci's owners selected the other two recipients: Mercy Flight and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

A check presentation will be held in HSBC Arena sometime after the first round of the NHL playoffs, Sabres spokesman Michael Gilbert said.

In addition, an event held in Casa-di-Pizza in the Elmwood Village on March 5 raised $1,100 for the Food Bank, said Mike Billoni, director of marketing and public relations for the organization.

That event was organized by Sabres fan Patrick Ruffino, with Casa-di-Pizza owner Joe Jacobbi providing free food and soft drinks to anyone who made a donation.

"It was so gratifying to see so many families come out, so many kids dressed in Sabres gear," Billoni said.

The efforts started after Sabres fans expressed outrage that the NHL fined Ruff $10,000 for his response to a hit on co-captain Chris Drury in the Feb. 22 game against Ottawa.

Ruff sent out his toughest players for the next shift in the game, sparking an on-ice brawl.

Ruffino, Phillips and other fans wanted to pay Ruff's fine, but the team urged them to raise money for charity instead.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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