LOS ANGELES -- The Patriots Hockey team achieved a monumental victory April 18 when they beat the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department team 7-6 at the STAPLES Center here.
The ice hockey team is comprised of active duty and former service members who all share a passion for playing hockey and a desire to raise money and awareness for wounded Marines and sailors.
Since the founding of the team, they have raised thousands of dollars for Wounded Warrior Project, Semper Fi Fund and other non-profit organizations.
"I used to play in a different league back in 2011 with a fellow [Marine]," said assistant team captain Jeremy Pilachowski, who serves as an active duty infantry officer. "In October 2011, I was having lunch after a skate with a few of the guys and we started the idea of starting a charity team to try and raise money for Wounded Warrior Project."
The team started small with only five to six active skaters. Since its inception, the team's size has nearly quadrupled.
During the East Coast Hockey League's Ontario Reign game at the Citizens Business Bank Arena Dec. 1, the team raised $1,400 for Semper Fi Fund, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to post-Sept. 11 Marines and sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force or Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces.
At their latest game against the Sheriff Stars, the team raised their largest amount yet. The Patriots sold t-shirts, jerseys and other Patriots Hockey gear during the Los Angeles Kings game. Their biggest source of income came from ticket sales for the game.
Through partnering with the STAPLES Center and the L.A. Kings, the Patriots sold tickets online for a discounted price, which bought fans the entrance to the Patriots vs. Sheriff Stars game at 3 p.m. and the Kings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets game that was hosted later that evening. By the end of the night, Patriots Hockey raised more than $2,000 for Semper Fi Fund and met hundreds of new supporters by greeting hockey fans in the corridors of the STAPLES Center.
"It's not that were only getting together to play hockey on weekends or on weekdays. It's more than that," said Sam Carlson, who serves as an infantry platoon commander with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. "It's pretty unique that you get a group of guys together that are willing to put some work in to raise money for Semper Fi Fund and other organizations."
Whether it's on the ice during a late night practice or at a booth raising money, many of the active duty service members on the team devote much of their scarce free time to Patriots Hockey.
"It's amazing to see what the team is now compared to what it was a couple of years ago," said team captain Marvin Floer, an active duty Navy corpsman serving with 1st Marine Division. "It's remarkable how we went from playing at small venues to playing at the STAPLES Center where the Los Angeles Kings play. I have no doubt that the team will continue to grow and the message will continue to spread that there are service members around the world who need care."
The team plans to host a tournament in the future featuring teams from other branches of the military, police and fire departments and other government organizations to raise funds and awareness for their fellow service members who can use the support.