MUSKEGON – Hockey will not be the only competitive event on the ice during Friday night’s Muskegon Lumberjacks game.

The Corgis will be taking center stage between the first and second periods, and could very well end up stealing the show.

Between 10-12 local Corgi dogs will be racing for a prize as part of the Lumberjacks’ annual “13 Loves Pets” promotion, sponsored by WZZM-TV.

The dogs will start at one blue line on the ice, with one owner beside them. At the opposite blue line will be another owner, coaxing them along.

The hope is that the Corgis will be able to run fairly well on the ice – and will cooperatively run in the right direction.

Sara Witkowski with her dog, Cooper, who will be racing on Friday. 

At least one competing Corgi owner, Sara Witkowski, isn’t at all sure that will be the case, but she thinks the event will be fun, either way.

“He might not run in a straight line, but that’s fine, too,” said Witkowski, the Lumberjacks’ director of finance. “Honestly I think that would be more amusing.”

Regardless of how well the dogs cooperate during the race, Friday will be a great night for local pet owners and animal lovers to head down to Muskegon’s Trinity Health Arena.

Pound Buddies Animal Shelter and Adoption Center will have a special area on the arena concourse to display adoptable dogs, and the hope is that a few human-canine love affairs will be sparked throughout the evening.

Fans who make pet donations when they enter the arena will automatically qualify for a raffle to win four club tickets to a future game. Lumberjacks club tickets come with free food and beverages during the game.

Cooper typically does not care for other dogs – but his owners will try to coax him during the race with the promise of a special treat.

Dog and cat food, pet wipes and other usable pet supplies are ideal donations.

But the highlight of the evening – outside of the game – will be the Corgis.

The Lumberjacks got the idea for a dog race from other USHL teams, but having Corgis on the ice was their own brainstorm.

“We heard that other teams have done it, and it’s been a huge success, but we added our own spin by making it a Corgi race,” said Carly Livingston, the Lumberjacks’ director of game presentation. “They are small dogs who love to run. Everyone loves Corgis.”

Livingston said she advertised online for local Corgi owners to enter their pets, 12 signed up, and roughly 10 are now expected to participate.

The owner of the winning Corgi will receive a $100 gift certificate to Must Love Dogs in Grand Haven, a grooming boutique.

There will also be hockey on Friday, when the Lumberjacks host the Youngstown Phantoms. Photo/Tonya Pardon

Livingston said the dogs will be introduced to the crowd during a media time out in the first period, then will take the ice for the big event between the first and second periods.

“A lot of people are excited about it,” Livingston said. “I think the dogs will do pretty good. From videos I’ve seen, they just kind of take off!”

Witkowski, the owner of three-year-old Cooper, really isn’t sure how he will react to his big evening.

The good news is that Cooper likes snow and cold weather, so the chilly ice should not be an issue.

“He loves going outside and loves the snow,” Witkowski said. “My son will shovel little tracks for him in the back yard when the snow gets too deep, or dig tunnels so he can go through the snow.”

The worrisome news is that Cooper has never been crazy about other dogs.

“He’s usually terrified of them, but I think he will be OK – as long as he’s with us he will be fine,” Witkowski said. “I actually don’t think he’s met another Corgi since he left his brothers and sisters, so it might be different.”

The hopeful news is that Witkowski’s husband Andy will be the one at the finish line coaxing him to run toward him, and he is Cooper’s favorite.

“My husband will be at the other end, so I think he will just focus and go,” Witkowski said. “But just in case, my husband went out and picked up a special treat, to show him what he will get if he runs to him.”