Jr. Blues honor fallen officer with BackStoppers Night
October 31, 2016
Hockey, like all sports, is about having your teammate’s back through the thick and thin. For the St. Louis Jr. Blues, that includes supporting your extended team as well.
In the world of junior hockey, the term “extended team” might typically source family, friends, billets and fans. Of course, it is understood that these people are an important component of the hockey community. But, the Jr. Blues extends their definition of “team” beyond that. The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) affiliated organization considers their local first responders as a vital part of their team, and they wanted to make that known.
“BackStoppers is a charity that raises money for the families of first responders that die in the line of duty or suffer a life changing injury," says Chris Flaugher, General Manager and Heach Coach of the St. Louis Jr. Blues.
The BackStoppers Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization based out of St. Louis, MO, that helps the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety.
Flaugher and the Jr. Blues organization decided to organize a special night for the hometown heroes, where the team could rally the community to raise funds for the non-for-profit.
“We picked to do a BackStoppers night when we set the schedule in the summer,” said Flaugher. “We had K1 design special edition jerseys to help raise money for BackStoppers.”
The original thought behind the special game had a very personal connection. Matt Crosby, a former St. Louis Jr. Blue and teammate of Flaugher and Assistant Coach Greg Anderson, was shot in the line of duty. Following his injuries, Crosby was left paralyzed.
“The BackStoppers stepped up and assisted one of our friends, and we wanted to help give back for their generosity,” said Flaugher.
According to The BackStoppers organization, they “provide needed financial assistance and support to the spouses and dependent children of all police officers, firefighters and volunteer firefighters, and publicly-funded paramedics and EMTs in our coverage area who have lost their lives or suffered a catastrophic injury performing their duty.”
Just before the scheduled BackStoppers night, tragedy struck again, once again very close to home for the St. Louis based-team and their community.
“About 2 weeks prior to our game, St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder was killed in the line of duty. Officer Snyder patrolled the area where our ice rink is located,” said Flaugher. Officer Snyder was a major off-ice player of the Jr. Blues, making sure the team and their fans were always safe through their practices and game days.
Immediately, the Jr. Blues were ready to take action, sourcing ways to give back to the Snyder family in any way that they could.
“We decided to piggyback off our BackStoppers night, and raise additional funds for Officer Snyder’s wife and 2-year-old son that were left behind in his passing,” said Flaugher.
The Jr. Blues organization had a silent auction, paired with an autograph session from St. Louis Blues Alumni Cam Janssen (former NAHL player with the St. Louis Sting), alongside Larry Patey, and John Casey. All the money raised from the special edition jerseys went to BackStoppers, while the funds gathered from the silent auction and autograph session went directly to the Snyder family.
“In all we raised over $3300 for the BackStoppers, and over $2100 for the Snyder family,” said Flaugher. “Giving back to the community is a way for our program to teach our young men about life, and the importance of being a good citizen.”
In terms of the game played that night, the Jr. Blues put on a show. St. Louis shutout their Midwest Division rival, the Evansville Thunderbolts, 11-0. The team had 53 shots on goal, and saw scoring from nine different players. At the conclusion of the game, the game puck was presented to the son of Officer Snyder, serving as a token of the special night.
The message on the puck from the team reads, “Your father is a true hero! This game puck and win is in his honor & memory.”
St. Louis Jr. Blues captain Tommy Loeffelman had heartfelt words to share on behalf of the team after the event. “I think the BackStoppers game was a huge success. There was great turn out, and the community support made it an incredible atmosphere to play in,” said Loeffelman. “It felt good to give back and raise money for the community, and the turn out showed how great the people within our community are. Thank you to all who came out to support.”
Flaugher reflected on the evening by saying, “It was nice to see the community come together to support a great charity and to help support the family of a fallen hero. The BackStoppers do so much to help assist the families during a tragedy.“