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Hockey for Heroes Tournament drops puck for 9th year

The event, put on by PUCHOG, helps raise money to get wounded veterans an opportunity to give hockey a try and get out of the house.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A men's league hockey tournament on a weekend is nothing new, but one tournament over the weekend had players tailgating and taking the ice for two days.

"We're going to have some 'A' level competition for sure," said Jake Crawford, who was lacing up the skates for the tourney.

Yes, there will be a champion and the players will keep score, but they also keep in mind what really matters.

"All the funds that are raised go back into PUCHOG," said PUCHOG President John Jones. "PUCHOG supports, we put veterans on the ice. We pay for the ice. We pay for equipment, just to get them out of the house. Physical, mental and emotional therapy."

For the ninth year, the Hockey for Heroes tournament dropped the puck in Dauphin County.

"It means a lot to the people that are out here doing it because they know they're supporting a good cause," said Jones.

"I think there's a big connection here," added Crawford.  "I mean, a lot of our men's league players are either veterans or are currently serving. So, I think it's something that people take very personally."

The goals are the same each year: to earn money through league fees and raffles, help get wounded vets out of the house and try something new.

"Hockey is very therapeutic for those guys," said Crawford. "It's definitely a way to get out there, get some exercise and get a mental break from whatever you're going through."

PUCHOG, which stands for People Using Competition Helping Others Grow, has seen the results firsthand. So much so that even if a veteran can't take the ice, they'll show up just to be a part of it.

"One veteran just had surgery," remembered Jones. "He lives an hour away and he comes just for the camaraderie, so this means a lot to those guys."

Since its inaugural tournament, it has grown, with the potential for much more in the future.

"We've grown from the original four teams to ten this year. So I could see this growing to 12-14 teams next year," claimed Crawford.

"We'd really like to have a lot more teams, so if we could spread the word, that would be phenomenal," added Jones.

You can find more about PUCHOG here.

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