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Hockey Rivals Join Forces To Assist Wounded Warrior Project



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They battle for three periods of hard-hitting — in the case of the most recent matchup, penalty-filled — fast-paced action on the ice. But the hockey programs from Newtown High School and Joel Barlow of Redding work together off the ice to raise money for Wounded Warrior Project. The players compete for the Warrior Cup, and money raised at the gate is contributed to Wounded Warrior Project.

The teams met at their shared home rink, Danbury Ice Arena, on January 26. This year, Barlow is a combined program with Weston and Abbott Tech of Danbury, and the co-op squad defeated Newtown 8-3 (for more coverage, view the sports section). Newtown still leads the Warrior Cup series four games to two. Newtown and the Barlow-led program alternate hosting the annual fundraiser game, and Newtown was designated as the home team and, thus, team booster club parents collected money at the gate.

In past seasons, both teams wore special camouflage jerseys. Newtown players wore uniforms with words such as “Courage” and “Commitment” above their numbers on their backs. Former players purchased those jerseys, but Newtown Coach Paul Esposito is hopeful of a return of the camouflage uniform as the series continues, he anticipates at a new arena in Fairfield Hills next time Newtown hosts.

Regardless of uniform, and outcome, the teams are doing something positive.

“The kids get that they’re playing for something extra. It’s more than just your average game,” Dennis Brestovansky, president of the Newtown hockey booster club, said between the second and third periods of this year’s Warrior Cup game.

“You look beyond wins and losses. You look at the important things in life,” said Mr Esposito, adding that soldiers are injured and killed protecting our freedom. “It’s a small way to give back.”

Mr Brestovansky, whose son David Brestovansky is a captain on the Nighthawks, said between $300 and $500 is collected and donated each year. The January 26 game brought in $380.

“It’s all through the generosity of fans from both sides,” Mr Brestovansky said.

Mr Brestovansky wrote in a letter along with the donation to Wounded Warrior Project, “The total donations we receive amount to nearly four times what the gate to an ordinary game would bring. I believe this reflects the continued sincere appreciation of attendees for your organization and those who have served our people, our country, and protected our freedom. Thank you to all those who have given so much for all of us and to you for all you do for them.”

In addition to Mr Brestovansky, the booster club includes Rob Paltauf, Chris Gardner, Lee Kirby, Rick Stanton, and Warren Ku.

According to the Wounded Warrior Project website, “Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization accredited with the Better Business Bureau, top rated by Charity Navigator, and holding a GuideStar Platinum rating.”

Newtown High School hockey team booster club parents collected $380 from attendees of the annual Warrior Cup game on January 26, when Newtown met the Joel Barlow of Redding-led co-op team. Pictured are, from left, Lee Kirby, Dennis Brestovansky (booster club president), and Rob Paltauf. Boosters also include Chris Gardner, Rick Stanton, and Warren Ku. —Bee Photo, Hutchison
Newtown High coach Paul Esposito, center in front, is flanked by Barlow coaches and players from both squads wearing special camouflage uniforms, standing on the ice, each in the formation of a W to honor Wounded Warrior Project, after the 2016 game.
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