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G-D Hockey Sets 9th Annual Military Night to Honor Veterans

by Jacqueliine Maguire
This year’s game will be held on Wednesday, February 19 at the Groton School hockey rink. The evening’s events will begin at 6:45 p.m. with a pregame tribute to the communities’ veterans. The Crusaders will play the Auburn Rockets and proceeds from the night will benefit the Sgt. William J. Woitowicz Memorial Fund.
     “This is always a very special night of hockey for our team,” shared senior captain Ian Maguire whose Brother, Connor, was an organizer and player in the inaugural game. “I really like the tradition of the night and the importance and respect of the flag ceremony,” added captain Alex Cianci. “It’s an incredible feeling to skate out with the huge flag over the ice and lead our fans in honoring all of the veterans who are at the game.”
     The team continues to wear custom camo game jerseys that were designed for the first game and bear the American flag on the back with the words “Never Forget”.
     Throughout the years, the team has contributed the proceeds to various Veteran’s groups. This year that tradition continues with the players choosing to support the Sgt. William J. Woitowicz Memorial Fund. Sgt. Woitowicz, a member of the GDRHS class of 2007, died in combat during June 2011. His sacrifice came while serving in Afghanistan when he opened himself up to direct enemy fire enabling his unit to move to safety. Sgt. Woitowicz has received several honors including the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.
     “Laying down your life for someone else is an incredible sacrifice,” Maguire reflected. “While most of us were too young to know Billy, he will forever be a role model for us. Our first Military Night was inspired by Billy and that’s why it’s so important for us to keep this tradition going. We can learn a lot from all of our Veterans, and this is a great night to show our appreciation and respect.”
     Funds are primarily raised through a bake sale, concession and 50/50 raffle. The Crusaders will also be accepting donations for the memorial fund in the form of cash or check made out to “William J. Woitowicz Memorial Fund”.
     The cost for the game is $5. Veterans and Youth Hockey players will be admitted free of charge. The team asks that all youth hockey players wear their team jerseys.
     The Crusaders usually call for a “black out” or “white out” for home games. Maguire closed by saying that “on this night it’s just awesome to look up at the stands and see red, white and blue.”
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