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Blackhawks alumni help support veterans at Oak Lawn event

Members Blackhawks Alumni Associatisigns autographs. | Evan F. Moore/For Sun-Times Media

Members of the Blackhawks Alumni Association signs autographs. | Evan F. Moore/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 14, 2014 6:18AM



Jax Andrews, the founder and CEO of Hockey Saves, wanted to buy ice time for hockey players who served our country.

“It started by accident. I play ice hockey as well. I happened to be near a military base (Fort Benning, Georgia),” Andrews said. “I wanted to say thanks to some of the troops and bought them a couple hours of ice time. I thought it was going to be a one-time thing.”

In conjunction with the Oak Lawn Park District Ice Arena’s 20th anniversary celebration, Hockey Saves sponsored a two-day event of charity hockey games Friday and Saturday.

The teams participating consisted of Oak Lawn/Orland Park police officers, current and former military members and the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association.

In the first game Saturday morning, the Oak Lawn Police Department beat Hockey Saves 13-9. Later that day, the Blackhawks Alumni got the better of Hockey Saves 8-4.

Andrews, a resident of New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, said the event was a way to thank the troops.

“Hockey is basically used as a healthy mental outlet for the troops,” Andrews said. “It’s also a way for people to say thank you to the troops. We put them on the ice as much as possible.”

Hockey Saves is a nonprofit group that schedules hockey games for current and former military veterans and their families.

The organization started out at Fort Benning but branched out into cities, such as Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Blackhawks Alumni player Grant Mulvey expressed his gratitude for being able to play in the event.

“This is fantastic,” Mulvey said. “Whenever you’re a part of anything with the people who risk their lives for our country in any capacity, it’s an honor to be able to do this.”

Mary Hensley, the ice arena’s skating school director, said the event brings the community together.

“We’re here to show our support for the troops. This is what it is all about,” Hensley said. “This is our 20th anniversary and we wanted to celebrate the heroes in our life.”

Robert Spears, of Atlanta, attended the game to watch his son Jason Wilson, play for Hockey Saves. Jason served in the Army from 2000 to 2011.

“I’m very proud of him. This is exciting,” Spears said. “He eats, breathes and sleeps hockey.”

Heather Black came to support her husband, Brian. He played on the Oak Lawn police team.

“I think it is a great event to raise money for charity,” Black said. “The guys have a great time. It’s a good bonding experience for the police department as well.”

For more information, visit www.hockeysaves.us/home.html.



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