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After Putting Him in Driver’s Seat, They Said Deal Didn’t Go Through

Associated Press

If it’s worth a new car to slap a hockey puck 90 feet through a tiny hole, then what’s it worth if the puck lodges halfway through the hole?

To Tom McCormack, it’s worth, maybe, a used car and some hockey tickets.

David Westphal Sr., co-owner of a Peoria car dealership that sponsors a free-car promotion at each of the Peoria Rivermen’s International Hockey League games, doesn’t think it should be worth anything but he wants to end the furor that he says has prompted threatening phone calls.

“I feel bad because I’d love to give that car away,” Westphal said. “But the rules say the puck has to go through the hole . . . I buy an insurance policy which pays off if someone shoots it through.”

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When McCormack heard his name called to shoot for a free car Dec. 29, he was worried about being booed off the ice.

To win, McCormack, 41, had to fire the 3-inch-wide puck through a 3-inch hole cut in a board covering the goal from center ice.

“All I wanted to do was hit the board,” he said. “I was thinking ‘Please, dear God, let me hit the board.’ I didn’t want to get booed.”

Instead, McCormack became an instant hero to 8,600 fans when the puck lodged inside the hole.

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As McCormack sat in the car, officials of Westphal’s dealership examined the puck and found that it had not passed into the hockey net. As the crowd began to jeer, McCormack gave a thumbs-up sign and drove the car off the ice.

But after reading the insurance policy himself, McCormack agreed that he had not won the car.

“But they want to make some sort of settlement with me,” he said. “I will wind up with some sort of vehicle. Technically, they don’t owe me a darn thing. They’re really being most cooperative.”

He may get a used car, free use of a new vehicle for a few months, or even a new car for which he would finance the amount above the value of the used car. The Rivermen are throwing in some hockey tickets.

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Westphal, though, is bitter about angry residents who have threatened him.

“Last year I did, indeed, give away a new car, and nobody showed up for the presentation,” he said. “Now I’m getting all this abuse.”


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