Glens Falls veterans get the gift of hometown hockey

Veterans Voices

Mariks Mitens and Blake Thompson of the Adirondack Thunder deliver 100 tickets to this Saturday’s Military Appreciation Night game to the Glens Falls VFW post on Cooper Street in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The VFW Post 2475 on Cooper Street is a haven for area veterans. This weekend, some of the soldiers who pass through its doors will be filling the seats of Cool Insuring Arena on a night just for them.

On Thursday, Adirondack Thunder hockey players Blake Thompson and Mariks Mitens presented the VFW with free tickets to the team’s Military Appreciation Night game on Saturday night against the Utah Grizzlies. The Thunder handed around 100 tickets to Kenneth Vassar, Senior Vice Commander of the Glens Falls chapter. And that’s only the latest support the team and the arena have given the VFW.

“They’ve given us everything we need,” Vassar said, grinning as he spoke in the VFW on Thursday. “They’ve given us over 300 or 400 tickets in the past 3 years.”

Those tickets are special. They offer an opportunity to see a free game and be recognized for service not only to veterans who have long-since settled down in the area, but also to those just getting back from time overseas.

Vassar just recently delivered about 150 tickets to National Guard soldiers about to come home to the Glens Falls area. For them more than anyone, Vassar said the tickets, and the hometown welcome they represent, mean the world.

“They get back to where they know their home is, they see their community and their family; it’s fantastic.”

Saturday night’s game features ticket packages that local businesses and individuals can sponsor to get more free tickets to veterans. It’s one of three games the Thunder will play this weekend against the Utah Grizzlies, returning to home games after a weekend playing in Newfoundland.

“It’s nice to give back to the community, and obviously this is a good cause,” said Blake Thompson, in his fourth year wearing the #8 jersey for the Thunder. “They’ve done so much for us.”

As for the game itself, Thompson thinks it will be a good one. The season is still young, after all.

“We’re only six games in, so there’s lots of room for improvement,” he said. “We’re just grinding away.”

The puck drops at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

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