Chicago (WLS) — There was a special atmosphere throughout the arena on Sunday night. Emotions were high when these kids got back to playing hockey normally.
The Junior Varsity team, which has not played in two months, will make sure to honor Indiana’s first responders before returning to the ice on Sunday.
“I feel like they’re playing in the Stanley Cup tonight,” said Wendy Cook, the freshman player’s mom.
The St. Ignatius Junior College hockey team is feeling a wave of emotion as they return to their home court two months after their bus was hit by an alleged drunk driver in Warsaw, Indiana.
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That accident, which occurred after a tournament in November, injured 16 people, including students and staff. Three of the students are still recovering from serious injuries but were able to be with the team.
“This whole thing has brought us very close,” captain Lucas Joa said. “We’re just happy they’re okay and they’re able to stay with us.”
There is a special moment before the puck is dropped to honor the Indiana first responders who helped the team the night of the accident.
“As bad as it is, to be here and see these kids play tonight – it’s just amazing. We’re grateful and humbled to be a part of it,” said Brad Kellar of the Warsaw Police.
Support for the team has flooded into hundreds of letters sent out, which now hang on the walls of the arena.
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In the stands, the St. Ignatius community came together and that support was taken to another level as the children were thrilled to get back to doing what they love.
“The support was overwhelming in a good way,” coach Michael Rigitano said. “Not just from a tight-knit hockey community, but from all over the country. Overseas, we hear from a lot of people, so it’s perfect.”
The team now faces multiple games in a short period of time to make up for rescheduled games over the past two months.
But the wolves are marching together..
“I think it just goes to show that our team can overcome almost anything — and even then, we can carry on,” Joya said.
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