By Alan Gionet

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (CBS4) — Hundreds of pond hockey players got together to match skills and compassion over the weekend in Silverthorne. The Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation put on its annual tournament and raised money for sick and injured hockey players, raising $120,000. The non-profit has grown enormously since it started a decade ago with a mission to share support.

(Credit: CBS)

This year Dawg Nation raised tens of thousands of dollars and as always, handed out tens of thousands as well.

“That’s really important, because that’s what the hockey world is about, is about giving back,” said Dawg Nation executive director Mike Freeman.

Among those who got help was hockey coach and player in the Breckenridge area, Tim Coen who suffered a traumatic brain injury from a fall. Also, the family of Rob Fees, an 82nd Airborne veteran and former captain of the Colorado Springs Dawgs who died in a motorcycle crash trying to avoid a deer late last year.

Volunteers keep the event going, including heroic flight nurse and hockey player Dave Repsher, who was a miracle survivor of a fiery Flight For Life helicopter crash in Frisco in 2015. Repsher was out with his wife Amanda, running a Zamboni to clear the ice all weekend.

“The amount of people who step up is unbelievable,” said Dawg Nation Hockey President Marty Richardson.

Sled hockey players competed and there was a game between legally blind hockey players and others as well. Dawg Nation provided sleds for all players to try as well as glasses that created a level of sight impairment, so all could understand what hockey is like to blind players They use a larger, metal puck with a bell inside.

“It’s really important that hockey is for everyone,” said Richardson.

The Foundation raised $120,000 raised this weekend. Another donation check in the amount of $10,000 dollars went to Nathan Abelein, who spent many weeks hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19. A well-known player, he could not compete this year with his team as he continue to suffer long term effects.

“Just to see him and the support that he’s had is mind boggling. You know we’ve had people just praying so hard for his recovery and you know he was in a coma for two months and just barely two months ago he couldn’t walk. He couldn’t support himself. He couldn’t eat,” said his wife Marilyn Abelein.

He got big applause and cheers from players who hope to see him on the ice again.

“We always say over and over and over again, play hard, play fair, give back and we make tough guys cry. And we just did it again,” said Richardson.

 

Alan Gionet