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Wings rally behind injured prep player

by Andrea Nelson / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT – Goals, assists, victories, defeats, playoff runs and championships aside, at the end of the day, hockey is and always will be just a game.

Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to remind us of this.

“Obviously you do whatever it takes to win but it’s just a sport,” Red Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson said. “That’s when you realize it, when something like this happens.”

Last month, Matt Sorisho, a senior at Novi Detroit Catholic Central High School, was seriously injured playing for a Michigan Development Hockey all-star team in suburban Detroit. After beating an opposing defenseman, Sorisho took a shot on net before being hit into the boards, his back hitting first. The collision caused life-changing spinal cord damage, leaving the senior paralyzed from the waist down.

“I felt sick,” Wings center Stephen Weiss said of hearing about Sorisho’s injury. “Having played the sport for so long, that’s one of your biggest fears growing up is getting hit like that and having something like that happen to you. So when you hear about it happening to someone else it breaks your heart and hopefully this event can raise a lot of money and help them out a little bit.”

Samuelsson and Weiss will join defenseman Danny DeKeyser, goalie Jimmy Howard, and coach Mike Babcock at a benefit for Sorisho on the covered ice at Compuware Arena in Plymouth Wednesday night.

“It’s a pretty easy decision,” Samuelsson said of attending the event. “You take it for granted, you like to play hockey and you’re upset obviously if it doesn’t go your way on the power play or whatever it is here, but this is totally different story.”

The Red Wings’ players will be accompanied by NHL legend Ted Lindsay, along with Wings alumni Chris Osgood, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby. The event will raise money for medical, home modification and mobility equipment that Sorisho requires after the accident. The expenses are estimated to be $500,000 in the first year and more than $66,000 for every year after.

The event will feature a variety of auction items, including two lower-bowl tickets to Nicklas Lidstrom Night on March 6; a 2013-14 team-signed Winter Classic Jersey; and six game-used, team-signed hockey sticks donated by the Red Wings.

Although none of the players have met Sorisho, they’re looking forward to supporting a fellow hockey player and helping raise funds for his medical expenses in any way possible. The injury hit close to home for DeKeyser, who attended Sorisho’s rival high school.

“Obviously he’s a CC guy and I went to De La Salle so I still went to a Catholic high school around here,” DeKeyser said. “It was unfortunate to hear about it and I just kind of wanted to maybe help out a little bit for the fundraiser and hopefully make a little bit more money for them.”

DeKeyser’s feelings have been echoed by coaches and players from across the hockey world.

Babcock, whose son Mike Jr. skated on a line with Sorisho at Catholic Central, has made multiple visits to the hospital and was the first to tell some of his players about the accident.

The well-wishes have been pouring in via social media as well, including a tweet from Jack Jablonski, who was also paralyzed playing hockey.

But Sorisho made it clear in his reply to Jablonski that he doesn’t plan on giving up on his future anytime soon: “Your an inspiration to me and I know we're both going to get through this and back on the ice someday.”

The benefit for Sorisho will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Plymouth’s Compuware Arena. Tickets for the event are $100 and can be purchased online by clicking HERE.

HALL OF FAME WEEK: The Red Wings will host two Hall of Fame nights this week to celebrate the recent inductions of Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Chelios will be honored tonight when the Wings host the Nashville Predators while Shanahan will be recognized Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town.

In celebration of the Hall of Fame nights, the Red Wings will give away 22,000 posters each night, display each player’s induction speech on the scoreboard before his respective game, and the inductee and his family will be welcomed at center ice for the ceremonial puck drop. Fans can also enjoy a concourse display from the Hockey Hall of Fame during the games, featuring artifacts from Chelios and Shanahan.

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