Ever since Benilde-St. Margaret sophomore Jack Jablonski was paralyzed after being accidentally checked from behind in a game on Dec. 30, 2011, the tributes and support have flooded in from the hockey community.
One of many fundraisers held for Jablonski occurred during a Blaine-Wayzata high school hockey game over the weekend. That school's JV team was playing Benilde-St. Margaret's JV team when Jablonski suffered his catastrophic spinal cord injury.
Blaine resident Mark Nowicki organized a "Chuck-a-Puck" fundraiser, in which spectators bought numbered pucks, tossed them at the center ice dot and the one closest to center ice won a share of the pot — with the rest of the money benefiting the Jablonski family.
What happened next has been called a miracle on ice.
Surreal occurrence No. 1, according to Aaron Rupar of City Pages: The puck that landed in the dot during the between-periods contest had a No. 13 on it — the lone puck to have Jablonski's high-school hockey jersey number on it, out of 160 pucks purchased.
Surreal occurrence No. 2 … well, this was just extraordinary. From Rupar at City Pages:
A few minutes later, Nowicki learned the parent of a Wayzata JV player bought the #13 puck, then gave it to someone else.
Who was that someone else? None other than the very same Wayzata player who checked Jablonski into the boards, changing both of their lives forever.
According to City Pages, the player plans on giving the puck to Jablonski.
The fundraiser netted the family $1,246; the unnamed JV player won $200, and will give it over to the fund for Jablonski. More from the Star Tribune on this amazing story.
Support for Jablonski had come from all over the hockey community. On Monday, members of the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks visited him in the hospital. Jablonski has received a phone call from Wayne Gretzky and an autographed jersey from Sidney Crosby as well.
From a fundraising perspective, there have been collections during hockey games and there was a recent golf outing dedicated in his honor. The Minnesota Wild announced on Tuesday that Hockey Day Minnesota 2012 will be dedicated to Jablonski and will raise money for his family.
(Meanwhile, let's not lose sight of the fact there's a second Minnesota hockey player that's facing paralysis after a hockey injury: Jenna Privette of Lakeville, a senior at St. Croix Lutheran High School in West St. Paul, who still has no feeling in her lower body after being checked from behind. As the AP noted, she arrived at the hospital with Jablonski's number painted on her cheek, as the game she was competing in was dedicated to him.)