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Duluth Warriors skate for veterans in Silver Bay

The Duluth Warriors and a Silver Bay men's team played an exhibition game Saturday, March 4, at Rukavina Arena in Silver Bay. (Photos courtesy Michelle Ketola)1 / 4
Duluth Warriors center and Silver Bay resident Jeff Dwyer presents an award to Lake County Veterans Service Officer Vince Sando for his many years of work on behalf of local servicemen. 2 / 4
Duluth Warriors Board President Matt Caple (right) presents Silver Bay resident Wayne Johnson with an award for his service during World War II and as the Silver Bay city attorney. 3 / 4
Silver Bay City Councilor Dustin Gourtermont (right) and Duluth Warriors defenseman Brett Jelinek compete for the puck during the Silver Bay team's 8-4 win March 4. 4 / 4

Hockey is never far from center stage in Silver Bay, and there was no exception Saturday, March 3, when the Duluth Warriors descended for an exhibition game against an adult men's team from Silver Bay.

The Warriors arrived with great fanfare, escorted to Rukavina Arena by the Silver Bay police and fire departments and were met at the arena by a crowd of Silver Bay residents as well as an honor guard from American Legion Post 109 in Two Harbors.

The Duluth Warriors are an adult men's hockey team that spun off of the Minnesota Warriors, a hockey program for "wounded, injured or otherwise disabled veterans," according to the organization website. Jeff Dwyer, a Navy veteran and team member, helped organize the Duluth Warriors team and the exhibition in Silver Bay.

The adult game was preceded by a North Shore Storm 8U game and the Storm girls' varsity team. The William Kelley High School Student Council organized a "chuck-a-puck" event to raise money for the Warriors April trip to the USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival in Chicago.

The event's guests of honor were longtime Silver Bay residents Wayne and Deloris Johnson.

Wayne is a World War II veteran who served in the Pacific Theater with the 23rd Fighter Group, also known as the "Flying Tigers," with the recognizable shark-faced nose logo on their fighter planes. After his service in the military, Wayne went on to become an attorney, serving as the Silver Bay city attorney for many years. He was instrumental in the construction of the city's Wayne Johnson Silver Bay Municipal Airport.

The Warriors also honored Lake County Veterans' Services Officer Vince Sando for his many years of work on behalf of local servicemen.

Following the game, which the Silver Bay team won 8-4, many made their way across Outer Drive to Northwoods Family Grille for a spaghetti dinner.

Dwyer said he hoped to expand the event next year to two days, with back-to-back games in Silver Bay and Two Harbors.

"The theme, 'For community, for country and for hockey,' was appropriate," Dwyer said. "What an extraordinary day of fun and patriotism."