ROPD and ROFD will play charitable rubber match for disabled veterans

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published April 14, 2015

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ROYAL OAK — With the series tied at two wins for the Police Department and two wins for the Fire Department, the rubber match will take place Saturday night when the puck drops in the fifth annual Guns & Hoses Charity Hockey Game.

Since the annual game between the departments began in 2010, each department has accumulated two wins (there was no game in 2012), but the ultimate winner of bragging rights will be determined at 7:30 p.m. April 18 at the John Lindell Ice Arena, 1403 Lexington Blvd.

“I know the officers and I, we have a ball,” said event co-founder Royal Oak Police Sgt. Patrick Stanton. “We really love playing for the causes, and although we have a lot of fun on the ice, we know that at the end of the day we’re helping support a good cause.”

The Police and Fire departments teamed up with the Michigan Warriors Hockey Program this year. Proceeds from the event will directly benefit metro Detroit disabled military veterans.

“It’s astounding,” said Josh Krajewski, founder and general manager of the Michigan Warriors Hockey Program. “I’m almost at a loss for words over it. We didn’t have any previous relations with them and they just reached out to us on our Facebook page.” 

Krajewski said the Royal Oak nonprofit organization provides disabled veterans with a no-cost opportunity to play ice hockey.

He said that the program provides an educational and developmental atmosphere for veterans of all skill levels for both stand-up and sled hockey. The program is run completely on sponsorships and donations.

“We’ve been building a bond and friendships through this program,” Krajewski said. “And whether they are new or have been playing their whole life, we have that common military background.”

Krajewski started playing hockey about three years ago.

“I found it to be a very therapeutic experience, myself,” he said.

Stanton said he became aware of the group through City of Royal Oak employee Carol Schwanger when she emailed him to let him know about the organization.

“It helps get them out of the house and onto the ice,” Stanton said.

Stanton, who is a veteran of the U.S. Army, said both departments are honored to support military veterans.

“These men and women have dedicated their lives to serving our nation and, in some cases, suffered either long-term physical or mental wounds while doing so,” Stanton said. “It is our job as Americans to take care of these men and women, and this game serves as a means to do just that.”

Since the inception of the Guns & Hoses Charity Hockey Game, the Fire and Police departments have raised almost $25,000 for various metro Detroit charities. More than 500 people attended the event last year.

Carrying on the event each year fulfills a personal goal for Stanton, who said he always wanted to be a part of a police-versus-fire charitable hockey game.

Stanton grew up in Marquette watching his father play in a similar fundraising event. Stanton teamed with firefighter Tony Cattini in 2010, and they modeled Guns & Hoses after the games Stanton watched as a kid.

Tickets to the event cost $10 and may be purchased in advance at the Royal Oak Police Department, 221 E. Third St., or any fire station. Tickets also may be purchased at the John Lindell Ice Arena the day of the event.

Krajewski said he will be at the event cheering on the Police Department team. But he does have an excuse for picking one department over the other. Krajewski was a military police officer while in the service.

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