A local high school hockey team will take the ice on Saturday like they do nearly every Saturday during hockey season.
But for this group of dedicated young men, this particular game is about more than putting a check in the win column.
“As a hockey coach you want to teach them hockey, but you also want to teach them a life lesson,” Eric Fanelli, who is the assistant coach of the WMRP Eagles, said.
Fanelli decided to float an idea by the seniors and honor those who have or have had cancer while playing the game that they love.
The Eagles will take the ice at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday against Hall-Southington. For them, the game is about more than winning.
“Everyone is honoring someone who had cancer so it really means a lot to those people,” player Connor McNamara said.
“I think that since we're all supporting someone in particular it kind of means something special to every single one of us,” player Michael Gionfriddo said.
The team even had special jerseys made that seniors on the team designed themselves.
"There are two names on the back of the jersey and the second last name is the person we're skating for," player Tyler Piecewicz said.
“Playing for someone makes you feel like you're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to do so,” player Andrew Albano said.
There will be a ceremony before the start of the game. Each person affected by cancer will be named. Those still alive will receive a pink rose.
For those who have passed, a rose will be placed on center ice until the start of the game. A moving tribute that the team is not taking lightly.
“This game is really special to me because I'm not only skating for my grandfather, but it gave me a chance to really think about my life because when it comes to this terrible disease, it takes their life away,” player Zac Forrest said.
It's a lesson this coach hopes his team will take off the ice.
“[I’m] hoping that the boys understand there's more to the game of hockey, doing something like this can bring joy,” Fanelli said.
To learn more about the event, click here.
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