In January, I was given the opportunity to follow the Firefighters involved in the Milwaukee Admirals Annual Battle of the Badges from their first practice session at The Ponds in Brookfield all the way up until the event itself. What followed was a journey into hockey, our local fire department, two trophies being won, and tremendous charity work.
The Milwaukee Firefighters traveled to compete in the 2018 Heroes Cup at the Ford Ice Center in Nashville, Tennessee. They managed to defeat the Toledo Fire Department 10-2 in the final. That same group that competed together and won together returned the next weekend to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and defeated the Milwaukee Law Enforcement in a 6-3 contest that earned the Battle of the Badges trophy.
“Our “A” team is obviously our “A” team,” laughed Milwaukee firefighter Tony Scott who represented the “B” team on Sunday. “What they did in Nashville was very impressive. That is a big tournament and they were hoping to compete. They walked in, handled business, and won the tournament.”
As great as all the success on the ice is this entire journey was about so much more than that. From a hockey level, the Firefighters weren’t an outright winner on the Battle of the Badges games held on Sunday afternoon. The two sides “B” squads played the first game of the day and the Law Enforcement went on to pounce all over the Firefighters in a 9-2 game that saw a four-goal performance from Scott Stachowski.
“We have some strides but we’re not disappointed about where we are,” commented Scott of the team’s progress. “We talked about, we need to play more outside of this event. We need to get together and do tournaments more. And that’s the goal going into next year.”
The beauty of the situation was seeing a wide range of skill sets, many playing organized hockey for almost the first time in their lives, putting on a great and skillful game. Just because you didn’t grow up playing hockey or haven’t laced up a pair of skates doesn’t mean you’re too old to learn to play the game of hockey, have fun, and be competitive.
“Regardless of your profession, police or firefighter, you’re a competitive person by nature and that’s why you are in that career,” stated Scott of the growth of the those competing in Battle of the Badges as well as his Firefighters “B” team. “It relates to what you do on the ice. When you’re battling an uphill battle and you are down by some goals – yeah, you still want to win. You are a competitive person. That’s why we all got into our profession and it relates to what we do on the ice. We want to compete next year and we want to be better.”
And, for all the action that the hockey brought to the table, what the day was truly about was coming together and helping each side of the ice provide to their local charities.
This weekend the Firefighters were supporting the Burn Camp and the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin’s efforts to fight cancer while the local Law Enforcement competing supported C.O.P.S. Kids Camp. There was a record turnout Sunday afternoon for the Battle of the Badges and fans in attendance who helped support the event contributed nearly $10,000 to these charities. This came a week after the Firefighters also managed to help raise $1,000 to the Burn Camp after winning the Heroes Cup in Nashville.
There were additional programs and charities on hand at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena during the Battle of the Badges. That included being able to sign into The Bone Marrow Registry in support of local firefighter Brian Cox who was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“They were doing the cheek swabs,” said Milwaukee firefighter Mike Lowery of the work and awareness for The Bone Marrow Registry. “That was cool because we have a brother on Milwaukee Fire Department who is in need of that right now. Anything that we can do to promote [charity] to help our brothers, our sisters, any first responders. This is what this is all about.”
The result on the scoreboard was one thing but all who came out to support them were the real winners on the day.
“It was a great turnout,” smiled Scott. “And then a lot of these people are back here to watch the Admirals game.”
He was correct, too. 5,891 fans were in attendance last night to watch the Milwaukee Admirals defeat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. Many of those fans ran their own three-in-three by getting to watch all three games held on Sunday at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
What comes next for our Firefighters that claimed wins in Nashville and Milwaukee? Well, on to the bigger and better things all hope. It simply takes more games such as what they were able to experience and continued support the likes of which they received along the way.
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