Jack Jablonski Miracle on Ice: Winning Chuck-a-Puck #13 thrown by player who hit him
Two unbelievable coincidences occurred during last weekend's Blaine-Wayzata high school hockey game. As is often the case in high school hockey, the game featured a "Chuck-a-Puck" event. Spectators buy a numbered puck, then throw the puck on the ice in between periods. The puck that ends up closest to the center dot wins, and that person gets a cut of the puck sales.
The winning puck turned out to be #13, and you won't believe who threw it.
Wayzata's JV hockey team, you might recall, was playing Benilde-St. Margaret's JV team when Benilde sophomore Jack Jablonski was checked into the boards from behind, severing his spinal cord and fracturing two vertebrae. Doctors have since said they doubt "Jabs" will walk again.
Fittingly, proceeds from the Blaine-Wayzata puck toss were to be given to Jablonski's family.
Blaine-resident Mark Nowicki organized the puck throw. He said the reason Blaine hockey boosters selected last weekend for the Jabs benefit is because Blaine parents wanted to show the Wayzata players and parents that "everyone is in this together."
"We wanted to reach out and say, 'hey, we feel your grief and pain,'" Nowicki said.
So the puck toss proceeded during one of the period breaks, and what do you know? Jablonski's No. 13 happened to be emblazoned on the winning puck. Kind of strange, right? Sure, but not as strange as what happened next.
Nowicki had to find out who tossed the winning puck. There were around 160 pucks strewn on the ice -- a higher number than usual, thanks to the Jabs tribute -- and a chill went down his spine when he saw #13 on the puck smack-dab in the middle of the center dot.
He said he thought to himself, 'how does this happen?' But he still didn't know who threw the puck.
A few minutes later, Nowicki learned the parent of a Wayzata JV player bought the #13 puck, then gave it to someone else.
Who was that someone else? None other than the very same Wayzata player who checked Jablonski into the boards, changing both of their lives forever.
Nowicki said: "It was a great thing. It really just ties the whole story together."
Perhaps it was meant to be. Either that or it's a very unlikely coincidence. But as far as Nowicki is concerned, the combination of hard-to-believe circumstances indicates a "greater power" was watching over that puck toss.
The Wayzata player later reclaimed the winning puck and plans to give it to Jabs in person. Understandably, he has reportedly been feeling quite bad about what happened to Jabs, and by all accounts there was no maliciousness involved in the paralyzing hit.
"I really feel bad for that kid," Nowicki said. "It wasn't a bad hit -- it was a fluke thing and he's having a hard time with it."
In total, the event raised $1,246 for Jablonski's family. For his winning effort, the Wayzata player took home about $200 himself.