Jack Jablonski wants to play hockey again. The Chicago Steel did their part to make that happen for the paralyzed high schooler.
The Steel selected Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Minn.) hockey player who was paralyzed during a junior varsity game in 2011, in this year’s United States Hockey League draft. Jablonski was chosen Tuesday in the 28th round by the Steel.
Late Tuesday night, the Steel tweeted: “With the final pick the Steel draft Jack Jablonski. Congrats @Jabs_13 on becoming a member of the Steel!”
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The USHL is regarded as perhaps the premiere junior ice hockey league in the United States. One day before the USHL’s draft began, Jablonski tweeted: “Dear USHL teams, Just thought I’d let u know I am eligible for tomorrow’s draft. Sincerely Jack Jablonski.”
Jablonski tweeted after getting drafted: “Best night ever. #steel”
The 17-year-old Jablonski was paralyzed when he was checked from behind on Dec. 30, 2011 in a JV game between Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Wayzata. After he hit the boards during the second period of the game, he remained motionless on the ice.
It was later revealed that Jablonski’s spinal cord was severed. Despite several surgeries to his spine, doctors told Jablonski that he would never walk or regain function in his arms or hands again. Since then, though, Jablonski has gained movement in his arms but is still confined to a wheelchair. Last year, he won the 2012 Courage in Sports Award as he continues to inspire with his progress.
On Sunday, Jablonski was at the Xcel Energy Center for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. Jablonski was on the ice pregame to deliver the State of Hockey to center ice, which drew loud cheers from the fans in attendance.
Two days later, the Chicago Steel helped make Jablonski’s goal of getting drafted a reality.