ALBANY, NY – Saturday’s game at Times Union Center was a high-scoring affair, which was determined in the final three minutes of play. In the end, the team in the white jerseys skated away with smiles on their faces and an 11-8 win to go with them.
Wait a second…
The Albany Devils defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Saturday 3-1 not 11-8?
To help clear up the confusion, you should know the United States Army 10th Mountain Division faced off with a makeshift Albany Devils team, which included members of the Executive Office.
The 10th Mountain Division team, or the Mountaineers Hockey Club, is comprised of American soldiers stationed in Fort Drum, NY.
“The team was actually formed when I was deployed in 2009,” said team captain and Army specialist John Laursen. “Two of the guys who formed the team have since left. It has always been a skate and shoot near us in Watertown, NY.”
The Mountaineers, who usually skate twice a week, put their hockey skills to use for reasons other than maintaining their fitness.
“Two weeks ago, we went to Long Island and raised almost $1,000 for the USO,” Laursen said. “We’ve had the Philadelphia Police come up and play us. We have a local [Federal Hockey League] team and we do a big charity event with them every year. Last year, I think we raised almost $12,000 for charity.”
The organization has raised money for USO Fort Drum, the Wounded Warrior Project and Defending the Blue Line.
Saturday’s exhibition game fit nicely with the Albany Devils continued support of the armed serviced.
“We can never do enough to back our troops,” said Albany Devils CEO Christopher Ciceri. “Our Military Appreciation Night is always one of my favorite games of the year and we have a great relationship with the Aviation Support Company ‘Alpha Devils.’
“We were so honored and grateful when we were approached to host this game. I only hope they left having had a great experience and knowing how much respect we have for each of them.”
Laursen says the Mountaineers are made up of approximately 50 players. With the revolving door of deployment, 15-20 soldiers are available per game.
“Fort Drum has 1,400 people, including myself, who are going to be deploying in January,” Laursen said. “We have about eight or nine guys on the team who couldn’t make it because they are preparing to deploy. Most of our flights leave early January.”
Whether it’s defending the net or defending the country, the round of applause the Mountaineers received during the second intermission of Saturday’s AHL game is a good indication of the support the Capital Region has for the troops.
“I think I can speak for all of our fans,” Ciceri said, “when I say, ‘Thank You.’”