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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – This year’s Hockey Day Minnesota is unlike any other in the history of the six-year-old event.
First, the high school hockey portion of the event was moved indoors from its usual Lake Minnetonka Excelsior Bay location to Minnetonka High School’s Pagel Activity Center. Unusually warm weather prompted the move as the outdoor ice was compromised.
But the day has new meaning as athletes play to win and play with heart.
This year’s Hockey Day Minnesota is also dedicated to the family of Jack Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey player paralyzed in a game last month.
Jablonski suffered a paralyzing injury on Dec. 30 when he was checked from behind during a junior varsity game against Wayzata. He remained in serious but stable condition Tuesday at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
The Benilde St Margaret’s girls hockey team sold Jabs wrist bracelets at the tournament as a fundraiser. The group already sold out of 50,000 Jabs bracelets in a week, and now they’ve ordered 60,000 more.
The Minnesota Wild, FOX Sports North and Wells Fargo hosted an all-day telethon Saturday as part of Hockey Day Minnesota, with the goal of raising money for the Jack Jablonski Trust Fund. The telethon began at 9 a.m.
In addition, there was an online auction including lunch with Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo. The auction’s proceeds will go to the Jablonski family.
The support for Jablonski continues out at the Pond Hockey North American Championship 2012 tournament near Maynards on Lake Minnetonka. That’s where the Jack Jablonski Junior Bronze Hockey Tournament will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
What started as a small idea on Facebook has now grown to a large tournament with more than 20 teams, and organizers say all the money will go to the Jablonski family.
Jay Lundberg, the Pond Hockey North American Championship co-founder, said Sunday will be a great day, even for those who don’t play hockey.
“A lot of fundraising is going on for the family, there is a private party that will match up to the first $13,000,” he said.
Saturday night the Minnesota Wild will wrap up Hockey Day Minnesota with an 8 p.m. game. Players plan to wear stickers bearing Jablonski’s number (13) on their helmets. Jablonski bracelets will be sold at the game as well.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)