Annual police vs. firefighters charity hockey game will benefit Burnsville’s fallen first responders

All the proceeds from an annual charity hockey game that pitted police officers against firefighters Friday night will go to benefit the survivors of three Burnsville first responders slain at the scene of a domestic disturbance on Sunday.

More than 1,000 people filled the Super Rink of the National Sports Center in Blaine for the eighth annual Guns-N-Hoses game. This year, all proceeds were dedicated to the Front Line Foundation, which says it will give the funds to the families of the three men.

Three jerseys hung against the hockey rink glass to honor police officers Paul Elmstrand, 27, and Matthew Ruge, 27, and firefighter/paramedic Adam Finseth, 40. The gunman, who later died by suicide, was barricaded in a home with his family, including seven children.

Burnsville Assistant Fire Chief Doug Nelson and retired former fire captain/paramedic firefighter Bill Schaetzel came to the game early to hang the jerseys. They were choked up and on the verge of tears, said Robb Leer, spokesman for the Front Line Foundation, which supports fallen first responders and National Guard members in Minnesota.

White Bear Lake police officer Ryan Sheak, who was shot three times in January 2023 while serving a warrant, gave a speech before the game and dropped the ceremonial puck.

He said that without the support of the community “I don’t know where my family and I would be.”

“When tragedy hits as first responders our life comes to a screeching halt but the world around us doesn’t stop. We still have mortgages to pay and groceries to buy,” he said. “Events like this make all the difference for us. So thank you. It provides us immediate relief so we can focus on healing and recovery.”

He said he wanted to thank everybody on behalf of all the “husbands, wives, dads, mothers, sons and daughters who selflessly serve our community every single day.”

At his words, the crowd of hundreds broke into thunderous applause and cheers.

While entrance to the game was free, there were raffle tickets being sold and a silent auction, along with a firefighter boot collection of cash donations. In addition, Leer said, everything sold at the concessions, including beer, would go to the foundation, which would help out the Burnsville families.

MaryKay Sievek, who was at the game to cheer for her nephew, a Blaine police officer, said it was appropriate that the money raised Friday night would go to Burnsville.

“The ‘blue line’ is a family and this is where the money needs to go,” she said.

For people who want to donate to the families, the city of Burnsville is directing donations to the Law Enforcement Labor Services’ Benevolent Fund. LELS is the largest public safety labor union in Minnesota.

“This is the official and only public donation platform verified by the City of Burnsville on behalf of the families of the fallen heroes,” LELS announced in a news release. “All proceeds will go directly to the families.”

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