By Joel Hillan

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Four all-veteran hockey teams from around the country were selected to face off in an invitational tournament in Lakewood. They also attended the NHL Stadium Series at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs.

(credit: CBS)

Nearly 20 teams applied for the opportunity to be a part of the Navy Federal Credit Union’s Veteran Showcase. Of the four teams who made the cut, one of the players lives in Colorado.

“Hockey is hockey. It’s a rough sport, it’s a physical sport, everybody’s competitive,” said Coast Guard veteran Jayson Franceschini.

He has been playing hockey since he was 3 years old.

“The one thing better than the sport itself is hanging out with the guys. Just being with the guys and the bond you create is probably the best part about the sport,” he said.

In May, Franceschini graduates from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Criminal Justice.

(credit: CBS)

“I just like having pride in what I do whether it’s hockey, whether it’s schoolwork, whether it’s a job so doing something like law enforcement and serving, it gives you a sense of pride to take with you, makes the job worth doing,” said Franceschini.

He jumped at the chance to come and play hockey with his all-Coast Guard team.

“The competition is definitely better than I expected coming out here. A bunch of veterans, you think a bunch of old guys, but it wasn’t like that, it was pretty good hockey.”

They faced off at Foothills Ice Arena in Lakewood; the venue was chosen because it is owned and operated by a veteran of the Vietnam War.

“Once you get into a group of veterans, you become a family instantly.”

(credit: CBS)

After the games, the players boarded a bus heading to Colorado Springs to watch the pros play outdoors at Falcon Stadium.

An opportunity one Colorado boy from New Jersey won’t soon forget.

“It’s going to be an experience, it’s going to be breathtaking, they’ll probably going to be no words.”

Joel Hillan

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