The Dubuque Fighting Saints came up with quite the salute to the military on Wednesday night.
A post-game auction of game-worn camouflage jerseys raised $15,500 for the Veterans Freedom Center located on nearby Kerper Boulevard. Of the 23 jerseys auctioned, USHL leading scorer Mike Szmatula's brought the high bid of $1,600.
The jerseys featured the club's alternate logo on the chest. They were worn for only one game, the Saints' 3-2 victory over the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
"Once again, Saints fans have risen to the occasion to support an incredibly worthy cause," Saints president Dan Lehv said. "I can't think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than through a display of generosity for our area Veterans."
Combined with last month's Pink the Rink event, the Saints have raised more than $30,000 through jersey auctions this season. The Pink the Rink event benefitted breast cancer research and support.
Kwik Stop & Dairy Queen and media partner Radio Dubuque presented Military Appreciation Night, while the Dubuque County Veterans Affairs Commission lent its support. Festivities began with a special pre-game ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Plaza located across the street from Mystique Community Ice Center in Chaplain Schmitt Island.
The evening included an Oath of Enlistment for six military members and tributes to veterans and active military members in attendance. Chris Billmyer, a Dubuque native injured in combat in 2010 in Afghanistan, appeared at the game nearly two years to the date of an overwhelming fund-raising event hosted by the Saints.
The Saints return to the ice tonight to face the Lincoln Stars in a battle between two of the top teams in the USHL. The Saints will celebrate "No Shave November" with Mustache Mania.
Tonight's game will be the second and final meeting between Lincoln and Dubuque during the regular season. The league-leading Saints won, 3-2, at the Ice Box in Lincoln last Friday.