Star Tribune / Carlos GonzalezOn Dec. 30, 16-year old Minnesota high school hockey player Jack Jablonski was hit from behind during a game and tragically paralyzed after severing his spinal cord and fracturing vertebrae in his neck. In the months that followed, the hockey world united in support of the Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore with NHL players and teams visiting Jablonski and sending messages of support while he was recovering. Various fundraising efforts were also held to help his family with medical costs.
On Saturday night, the story of "Jabs" took a happy turn as his fellow teammates won the Minnesota Class 2A boys hockey championship game at Xcel Energy Center 5-1 over Hill-Murray. Junior Grant Besse scored all five goals, three of which came shorthanded while Jablonski watched in a suite inside the arena.
From the Star Tribune:
Besse, a junior, scored a pair of even-strength goals 1:23 apart in the first period then completed the hat trick with a shorthanded goal near the end of the second period.
He added two more shorthanded goals in the third period, much to the delight of the 17,607 fans, many openly rooting for the Red Knights (25-6-0).
The team has worn a commemorative patch featuring Jablonski's No. 13 since the incident and finished the regular season winning 12 of their final 15 games before taking all three section playoff games and all three in the state tournament. In a jolt of motivation, last month Jablonski surprised his teammates by showing up at the rink before their Section 6AA quarterfinal victory.
For more information on how to help, you can visit the Jack Jablonski Fund website.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy