Support for Jablonski goes deeper than ‘State of Hockey’ moniker

by Jason Olson
Sports Editor

By now we’ve all heard and some have even done something to help Jack Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey player who was paralyzed during a junior varsity game against Wayzata Dec. 30.

The outpouring of support has been nothing short of amazing, just do a #jabs search on Twitter. His CaringBridge page had nearly 400,000 visits as of late morning Jan. 11.

From immediate tributes like the white-outs at Red Knight games to the openness of his family in sharing their message days after the tragedy which severed his spine and doctors said a full recovery was highly unlikely.

Blaine Hockey Booster Club President Mark Nowicki summed up the support well. “We’re all in this together,” he said. “It’s not just Benilde or Wayzata that are suffering, we all are,”

Seeing the various tributes and benefits shows why the Minnesota Wild’s tag line of “State of Hockey” goes beyond hockey but shows that people really want to help out when tragedy strikes.

As Blaine/Spring Lake Park Editor Tim Hennagir wrote about the impromptu gathering on the field at Bengals Stadium Jan. 5, the support, while showed in many different ways, has a common message – we’re here for you.

While varsity hockey games resumed last Thursday and continued on their regular schedule, Wayzata paid a visit to Blaine for a boys’ game Saturday evening.

As it’s been reported by other media outlets, the coincidences of what transpired at the regular Chuck-a-Puck event serves as another example of how we can come together. The regular intermission event serves as a hockey club fund-raiser when half of the proceeds from the $1 chance to throw the puck go to the club with the other half going to whoever tosses the puck the closest to the center dot.

Not only did the No. 13 puck land directly on its intended target, the center face-off dot, but who threw it couldn’t have been scripted any better. The Trojans player who was involved in the play on Jablonski tossed the winning puck.

“I went out on the ice and there it was, sitting dead center on the dot. Out of over 100 some pucks, it’s pretty incredible,” Nowicki said. “Then a Wayzata parent came up to me afterwards and told me it was the one who was involved in the accident. Just to have the puck there and the kid throwing it was amazing.”

More than $1,246 was raised between the boys’ and girls’ varsity games and donated to the Jack Jablonski Fund.

The idea of donating the club’s proceeds was an easy decision for Nowicki. “I wanted to do it because of Jack and the Wayzata families and to let everyone know we’re all together,” he said. “We’re all part of the bigger hockey family and to let them know it’s not just the Benilde or Wayzata programs that are suffering, we all are.”

Nowicki said coaches’ and referees’ efforts to emphasize the dangerous plays seems to have had an affect on games over the admittedly short two-week window. “You can tell players are more cautious of what they’re doing and are more aware of what is going on,” said Nowicki, a boys’ mites coach and U8 girls’ coach. “I’ve noticed the kids are playing more cautious and not as reckless.”

The Blaine youth hockey program began selling Jablonski wrist bands during its games at Fogerty Arena Jan. 11.

A golf tournament put on by brought more than 100 golfers to Creeks Bend Golf Course for a No. 13 benefit Jan. 10 and the Minnesota Wild announced this year’s Hockey Day Minnesota will be dedicated to Jablonski and the Jack Jablonski Fund.

If you’d like to help Jablonski or the Jack Jablonski Fund visit or partake in one the benefits at area rinks and enjoy the game we all love and enjoy.