Jack Jablonski's jersey hangs just inside the Benilde-St. Margaret's locker room door. Photo by Tom Wallace, Star Tribune
A fundraiser during the Blaine-Wayzata high school hockey game over the weekend not only collected hundreds of dollars for the family of paralyzed hockey player Jack Jablonski but unfolded in a way that defied all odds.
The "Chuck-a-Puck" event Saturday was dedicated to Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret's hockey player who was paralyzed from a hit into the boards late last month during a junior varsity game against Wayzata.
Chuck-a-Puck is a staple fundraising tool of hockey programs everywhere. Numbered pucks are sold for $1, then thrown onto the ice upon the announcer's command between periods. The puck closest to the center dot wins a slice of the puck sales.
The winning puck Saturday at Fogarty Ice Arena in Blaine that beat out more than 100 others was No. 13 -- Jablonski's jersey number.
"I walk out there, look down at center ice, the faceoff dot, and a chill ran through me," said Mark Nowicki, who coordinated the event. "Puck Number 13 is right on the dot. Oh, my God, how is this possible?"
At that point, Nowicki had yet to find out who pitched the winning puck.
Turns out, he learned, a parent of a Wayzata JV team member specifically bought puck No. 13 and then gave it someone else to toss onto the ice.
And that someone else who threw the puck smack-dab on the center dot? The Wayzata player who checked Jablonski into the boards.
The Blaine girls team was also playing Saturday on the other Fogarty rink and made the same fundraising gesture for the Jablonski family.
The total take for the Jablonskis was $1,246, which included not only proceeds from the $5 per puck that was charged but "a couple of nice donations," Nowicki said.
The Wayzata player claimed his prize, about $190 for his winning toss.
"I have no problem with that," Nowicki said. "He's really been struggling through the whole ordeal."
Nowicki said that the Wayzata player later reclaimed the puck "because he wants to give it to Jack."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482