Charity hockey game aims to benefit military families

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SUDBURY – A month into his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, 1st Lt. Scott F. Milley died from enemy fire while on patrol in November 2010. He was 23 and a U.S. Army Ranger. 

He was also a former hockey captain at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, where news of his death dealt a deeply felt blow, especially to the hockey community. One response has been the creation of a charity hockey game that has raised thousands of dollars to benefit military families and veterans, with the next one taking place Saturday afternoon in Marlborough. But that took some doing.

At the time of Milley’s death, Evelyn Dow’s son, Jordan, was a sophomore at the school and a hockey player. The fallen soldier’s family had remained very involved with the sport at Lincon-Sudbury, and members of the boy’s team distributed programs at his funeral.

The players “were changed by that experience,” Dow said in an interview this week. “They saw a 23-year-old former L-S hockey captain’s funeral.” Referring to Jordan, she added, “It really impacted him.”

1st Lt. Scott Milley, a U.S. Army Ranger and former Lincoln-Sudbury hockey captain, was killed on patrol in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Evelyn Dow)

1st Lt. Scott Milley, a U.S. Army Ranger and former Lincoln-Sudbury hockey captain, was killed on patrol in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Evelyn Dow)

Milley, she said, “was a happy-go-lucky guy with a strong work ethic who cared about people.”  Through the charity game, she added, “We try to do the work Scott would have championed, and this event lets the community continue on what he would have done.”

Two years later, Jordan became captain of the school’s hockey team, the Warriors, and he decided it was time to do something to honor his predecessor. He wanted to celebrate the soldier’s life through the sport they both loved.

Dow drew on youth hockey league connections to players on Concord-Carlisle Regional High School ‘s Patriots team to embark on setting up a partnership. He spoke with Peter Elenbaas, the Sudbury school’s athletic director and his former hockey coach. Elenbaas had also coached Milley.

Soon after, the Warriors 4 Warriors v. Patriots 4 Patriots charity series became a reality. Proceeds of the event go to the 1Lt Scott F. Milley Ranger Foundation and are used to help military families and veterans.

Putting on the event takes a lot of work, Evelyn Dow said. But friends and neighbors pitched in and the first games took place in 2012.

“Sudbury is a pretty tight-knit community, and we had the right people to make the Warriors 4 Warriors game happen,” she said. “A lot of hands go into making it happen.”

Fundraising has become important, Dow said, because there’s a lot of need among military families and veterans. And it dovetails with the school’s approach to sports.

“The motto of the Lincoln-Sudbury hockey program is ‘First to Serve,’ and that ties in with who Scott was,” Dow said. “This event belongs to the hockey program. The kids own it.”

Students at both schools raise money for the Milley foundation by selling wristbands at school that say “Warriors4Warriors” and “Patriots4Patriots.” Similarly emblazoned items available include T-shirts, hats and magnets.

“Every time the kids sell a wristband, they know they’re making a difference,” Dow said. The foundation also receives proceeds from ticket sales, concession stands, raffles, and a silent auction.

This year’s games begin with the J-V boys at 3 p.m. in the New England Sports Center, 121 Donald Lynch Boulevard in Marlborough. The varsity girls take the ice at 4 p.m. and the varsity boys face off at 6 p.m.