Heartfelt salute to troops

CRASH CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

As far as we know, no members of the San Diego Padres can skate.

But, with a U.S. naval base in the Southern California city, a few times a year the Major League Baseball team dons camouflage-themed uniforms in honour of the local troops.

On Saturday, the Edmonton Oil Kings will do a Great White North version when they hit the ice with one-night-only camo unis for Military Appreciation Night.

"It's a good opportunity for us to recognize what they do for us," said Oil Kings general manager Bob Green.

"A lot of that is not seen (here) on a day-to-day basis because a lot of what they do is overseas. It's something small that we can do, like I said, to show appreciation for what they do."

The feeling is mutual.

"The Edmonton Garrison as a whole, and 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in particular, we appreciate the support shown by organizations in Edmonton such as the Oil Kings," said Master Warrant Officer Gene Sharpe, a squadron Sgt.-Major with 1 CER.

It's a night out that won't be overlooked by local military members.

"We constantly have troops deployed overseas, getting ready to go overseas, or just getting back from there," said Sharpe. "So we really appreciate all the support from the Oil Kings."

And there just may be some quiet cheering for the opposition. That's okay with the Oil Kings' GM.

"I think it's great that we're playing the Chilliwack Bruins because a lot of these soldiers (1 CER in particular) moved here from Chilliwack a few years ago," said Green.

"The guys love that when they get an opportunity to play in front of a lot of people. When it gets loud and boisterous, it gives us an extra gear."

Similar to what the Oil Kings did when they made up rodeo-themed sweaters before the Canadian Finals Rodeo last November, the unis will be auctioned off after the game.

The rodeo-jersey auction raised $24,000 for the Cowboy Benevolent Fund. Money from this auction will go to the Military Family Resource Centre.

While it's not officially a Tickets for Troops night like the Oilers held, it's an unofficial part of the plan, said Kings spokesman Jordi Weidman.

"We've talked to season-ticket holders and Founding Club members and told them, 'We'd love to have you come, but if you can't make it, we'll make sure those unused tickets get to some of the families on the base.' We had an overwhelming response."

Team Canada spent some time at CFB Petawawa near Ottawa before they went on to capture gold at the World Juniors. Players like Edmonton-born Tyler Ennis said it was a bonding experience and that it was a good dose of reality being around the military personnel.

The reality is that some terms get tossed around in sports, becoming cliches. Green is fully aware of that.

"We talk about 'sacrificing' and 'battling' and those types of things," he said. "But (we know) what they do is certainly on a different level. Especially on a day-to-day basis, with the circumstances they work under.

"And we respect that."

ICE CHIPS: The Canadian Hockey League yesterday announced that forward Marcus Foligno of the OHL's Sudbury Wolves will join Team Orr for tomorrow's CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Oshawa. Foligno replaces injured Oil Kings forward Tomas Vincour.

Foligno, a 17-year-old from Sudbury, Ont., is in his second season with the Wolves. In 39 games this season he has 23 points.


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