Memorial on ice

  • Article by: COURTNEY BLANCHARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2007 - 11:17 PM

A hockey game became a tribute to the player from Chanhassen who died when a van rolled over.

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Neither team had played against the other before, but they had something in common. Every player's jersey was emblazoned with the number 22 and "JACKSON."

After a frenzied warmup, the black and white jerseys separated to either side of the rink, and each player raised a stick in the air.

The room was abruptly silent as more than 100 friends, family and teammates at the Chaska Community Center late Friday night paid tribute to Andrew Jackson, the 18-year-old college freshman from Chanhassen who died last week when a Purdue University hockey club team van rolled over near Wingate, Ind.

Jackson's sister, Nicole, 21, traded her weariness from Friday afternoon's funeral for the excitement on the ice. She said there was no better way than hockey to celebrate her brother's life.

"This was Andrew," she said. "This was how he measured his life."

Only hours after his death, Jackson's friends, scattered across several states, formed a Facebook group called "RIP Andrew Jackson."

Purdue goalie Grant Burdeau, of Munster, Ind., said there was soon a suggestion that everyone get together for a game, and the word spread.

A team of Purdue players, clad in white, faced off against an extemporaneous team of Jackson's high school friends and former youth hockey teammates.

Each team had its own memories of Jackson. Friends from high school were playing for a Jackson who had bounced back from a cancer diagnosis his freshman year at Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield.

Friends from Indiana had watched a vibrant young player join their ranks, instantly clicking with his defensive partner, said Purdue's team captain, Ted Ward, of Glenview, Ill.

"It might be selfish," he said. "I want to say he'd be rooting for us."

The Purdue team won 7-4, but the cheers were all for Jackson.

From the stands, his mother, Hope, had tears in her eyes as she watched dozens of players wearing her son's number shake hands at game's end.

Courtney Blanchard • 612-673-4921

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