A fundraiser during the Blaine-Wayzata boys' high school hockey game this 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 player who was 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, 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.
He learned that a parent of a Wayzata JV team member specifically bought puck No. 13 and then gave it to 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 Wayzata player claimed his prize, about $190, and will now turn the money over to the Jablonski benefit fund, said Wayzata varsity head coach Pat O'Leary.
Along with the $190, the benefit otherwise took in $1,246 for the Jablonskis, which included not only proceeds from the $5 per puck that was charged but "a couple of nice donations," Nowicki said.
Nowicki said the Wayzata player, who visited Jablonski in the hospital three days after the injury, later reclaimed the puck "because he wants to give it to Jack."
On Monday, Jablonski was listed in serious but stable condition at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482