Stadium Series Hosts Military Veterans Showcase
NASHVILLE– Dale Vogel looked pretty happy for someone whose team lost 3-2 on Saturday.
Sure, the loss was heartbreaking, but Vogel said he’s still thrilled his Fort Worth Patriots were one of four teams selected to compete in the Navy Federal Credit Union’s 2022 Veterans Showcase Tournament.
“It was beautiful, the ice is great, the facility is awesome, just a once in a lifetime experience,” said Vogel, a retired Marine Corps corporal. “On the ice, it gets competitive, veterans are competitive. But off the ice, it’s a brotherhood.”
Fort Worth, the North Carolina Warriors, Veterans United Hockey and San Diego Guardians Ice Hockey faced off at Ford Ice Center Bellevue in West Nashville. Players then boarded buses and headed downtown to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Nashville Predators 3-2 in the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at Nissan Stadium, home of the Titans of Tennessee in the NFL.
Their weekend in Nashville will wrap up Sunday with a veterans demonstration skills competition on the ice at Nissan Stadium.
“It’s a unique opportunity to skate on the same rink as the pros we’ve all dreamed of being at some point in our lives,” Vogel said.
Teams for the tournament, in its second year, were selected by Navy Federal, the United Heroes League and Bespoke from veteran teams nationwide.
“While military hockey tournaments exist, we wanted to create a national platform for veteran hockey teams to share their talent and stories,” said Keith Hoskins, executive vice president of subsidiary operations at Navy Federal. . “Through the Veterans Showcase game, Navy Federal is doing just that. Now in its second year, we have seen teams from across the country express an interest in playing and we look forward to continuing this program for those who have served and love the game. hockey and their communities.
The Veterans Showcase is more than about goals, wins and losses for the players. For many of them, playing veteran and warrior hockey teams is a way to come together and bond over shared experiences with ex-US service members.
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Most players have service-related disabilities or are adjusting to civilian life. Hockey provides respite and refuge from challenges. It also gives them a purpose.
The four programs presented this year organize fundraisers for themselves and for charities in the communities.
Travis Harris, the captain of the North Carolina Warriors who retired from the Navy in 2014 after 5½ years of service, said the program gave ex-servicemen the chance to stay close.
“A lot of people who haven’t served don’t realize the bonds you’re building while you’re there,” Harris said. “When you go out…you move to different parts of the country and they don’t have those connections. They feel like something is missing. So they come across a program like ours and they see the brotherhood is there. .”
Marv Floer, co-founder of Veterans Hockey United, said the Veterans Showcase reflects the growing importance and impact of veterans hockey.
“To see some of the fruits of our labor come together to grow this community of veteran hockey players to the point where Navy Federal Credit Union and Bespoke are partnering with the NHL to send players out there and take care of them? C It’s awesome.” said Floer, an active duty Navy member.