Red Knight hockey returns in emotion-filled game against SLP

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Leila Aboussir

Max Jablonski, younger brother of Jack, was named an honorary member of the Varsity hockey team.

Giulia Imholte, Student Life Editor

The inside of the St. Louis Park Rec Center––the home of both the Red Knights and their opponent, the St. Louis Park Orioles––was lined with booths selling helmet stickers, mittens, t-shirts, patches, and pins all adorned with the number 13 or “Jack Jablonski, In Our Hearts” on Jan. 7 as the Red Knight boys’ hockey team returned to the ice for their first game since their teammate Jack Jablonski’s injury on Dec. 30.

The spirits of the varsity team were improved right before the game due to news from Leslie Jablonski that Jack managed to move both of his arms earlier today––a feat that was not probable following Wednesday’s prognosis. “Some of the guys on the teams were crying with joy. We were so excited. It’s a small miracle, but we’ll take any miracle we can get at this point, and hopefully it’ll all lead up to one great miracle,” said senior captain Jake Horton.

The Red Knights enlisted Max Jablonski, the younger brother of Jack, to be an honorary teammate for the night. Max Jablonski, who skated with the team and sat behind the bench for both the junior varsity and varsity games, wore a Red Knights jersey signed by the team. “It was kind of scary, but the players really helped me. It was just a nice atmosphere, and a little intimidating, but it was a lot of fun,” he said.

Similar to the BSM boys’ basketball game on Jan. 5, fans came whited-out to cheer for and support “Jabs.” Every time the game clock hit the number 13, whether that be 13 minutes left in a period, or 13 seconds, the BSM fan section burst out in choruses of “I Believe in Miracles” or “We Love Jabby.”

During the third period, the scoreboard maintained a score of 13-13 in honor of Jablonski. “[The support] helped a ton. Not just the fact that you hear [Jablonski’s] name being chanted, but knowing that everyone is here to support him,” said Horton. “As a hockey team, we’re always going to be there for him, but knowing that other people are here to support him is great to hear.”

“Before the game was more emotional––there is no way to honor Jack by going out there and playing poorly. He’s fighting and we’ve got to go out there and fight,” said Mr. Ken Pauly, varsity head coach. “It’s not about winning a hockey game, it’s bigger than that.”

While the news of Jack’s progressing recovery is comforting for all those who support him and motivation for his teammates, his injury has greatly impacted players when it comes to checking. “In both the JV and varsity games, the guys were a little bit tentative, like, is it okay to hit somebody? There wasn’t that level of physical play that you would normally see,” said Coach Pauly. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing that they are asking some hard things about how they play, and they should…I think everyone’s nerves are a little raw.”

Raw nerves were put on edge when, five minutes into the third period, senior Tyler Ellegard fell to the ice after a check to his head. “It’s the worst to have one of your players laying on the ice, and after what Jack went through, our team has been affected. It was good to see he was moving. it was nothing too severe; he got the wind knocked out of him,” said Horton. “It’s tough to see your players go down.”

The performance against St. Louis Park wasn’t the team’s greatest, said Horton, but senior goalie Anders Jecha had a shut-out game and the team won with a final score of 7-0. The varsity captain was not the only player with reservations regarding the Red Knights’ performance. “The first and second periods were rough because we had a lot on our minds. 0-0 after the first period is not great,” said junior varsity player sophomore Will Jarvis following the JV win of 3-1 over the Orioles.

Following the second period, it was announced that the new website for Jablonski––www.jabby13.com––had received over $20,000 in donations. The amount of money raised at the hockey game is at this time unknown.