By @MichaelCaples –
PLYMOUTH – Josh Krajewski said he was having trouble putting the moment into words.
Can you blame him?
On Nov. 19, Krajewski and the Michigan Warriors suited up for a game against the Detroit Red Wings’ alumni squad at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.
Intro video, spotlight entrance, player introductions, public-address announcer, etc. for a game against the likes of Mickey Redmond and Joe Kocur? Talk about a dream come true for any hockey player growing up in Michigan.
“It’s incredible,” said Krajewski, the founder of the Michigan Warriors hockey program, a collection of wounded veterans who use hockey as therapy for life after serving. “USA Hockey Arena has been the most gracious host for us. This is the largest event that we’ve put on to date since the inception of the program, and we’re just honored to be able to skate with the Red Wings alumni – to be out here and have fun in front of all these fans.”
Thousands were on hand to watch the Warriors play in the game against the Wings’ alumni – an event sponsored by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers. It was a fundraising effort for the Warriors program, and it was certainly successful – Krajewski said an early estimate was that more than $13,000 was raised for the program. The Warriors held a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, a ‘Chuck-A-Puck’ event and more. Plus, they received their giant check from the Chevy dealers for $15,000.
“We’ve made huge strides in the last few months,” Krajewski said. “We have a lot of great sponsors; Metro Detroit Chevy dealers are the ones that are presenting the game tonight, sponsoring the game. This wouldn’t be possible without such a huge organization, right here at home, backing our homegrown program.”
Having the Wings taking part certainly helped in the effort to raise funds for covering ice bills and gear.
“For every situation, every cause you can imagine, we as part of the Red Wings alumni are just very fortunate to be in a position to make a difference,” said Redmond, the Red Wings alum and Fox Sports Detroit commentator. “Schedule permitting, we’ll get out as much as we can. It’s as good as it gets, and when you’re talking about these guys, well, in the world we live in today, you can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to them.”
Fellow Red Wings alum and FSD analyst Darren Eliot, another participant in the charity contest, said the game was extra special due to his connection with Krajewski. Eliot helped Krajewski onto the ice five years ago as an instructor for Suburban Hockey Schools, and he’s enjoyed watching him build the Warriors program.
“Playing to support the Michigan Warriors is special for the obvious cause,” Eliot said. “For me it is also a little more personal. Josh runs the program and he began in hockey when I ran the Breakfast Club morning clinics at Royal Oak. He reached out to me about the class five years ago and he has taken it from there – on the ice and off for the Warriors.”
Even though they couldn’t beat the Wings – the game ended with a 7-5 final score – Krajewski said his Warriors teammates cherished their once-in-a-lifetime event.
“It’s the highlight of their careers, the event, of the season, of the hockey season here with the Michigan Warriors – I can’t even speak of how great it is for them.”