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Veterans and sports stars play hockey to raise mental health awareness

Veterans and sports stars play hockey to raise awareness for mental health
Veterans and sports stars play hockey to raise awareness for mental health 02:53

CANONSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- A very special hockey game was played Thursday night in Washington County. It involved some Pittsburgh-area veterans and some of the biggest names in Pittsburgh sports all to raise mental health awareness. 

KDKA-TV's own veteran and hockey player Ross Guidotti was there as the Pittsburgh Warriors hockey team faced off against a team of all-stars at the Printscape Arena in Canonsburg. It was a fun game for sure but one with a very serious goal.

They took to the ice and dropped the puck as part of the Malone Family Foundation and Pittsburgh Warriors for the Black and Gold Breaking the Mold celebrity hockey team. But this game was about more than goals and assists. 

"The mission is to bring awareness to mental health. It affects all of us and really shines a light on what the Pittsburgh Warriors have already done for the past five years, saving veterans' lives through hockey," said former Penguin Ryan Malone. 

Malone is one of many Pittsburgh sports stars lacing on the blades to help a team and organization dedicated to helping veterans with service-connected disabilities unite around hockey.

"We heal through hockey. That's what we do," said Sam Johnson, the chairman of the Pittsburgh Warriors hockey team. 

The Warriors hockey team is a team of veterans who get each other when the world sometimes doesn't.

"It's about taking the mask off. And again, going back to the locker room, that's where you see it. You can see people take off this mask and burden that they've worn for years. It's amazing. It's amazing," said veteran John Kelly. 

Kelly wore No. 22 like everyone else. Twenty-two is roughly the number of veterans who take their lives every day in America. It's a number the Pittsburgh Warriors and the Malone Family Foundation are dedicated to decreasing one shift, one shot and one game at a time.

"It's truly open arms, no matter who you are, come as you are and we love you," Kelly said. 

But let's not be too serious. It's a lot of fun also.

"We get to play with guys who were in the NHL. Are you kidding me?" Johnson said. 

In addition to Thursday's game, the Malone Family Foundation donated $16,000 to the team. To learn more about the Pittsburgh Warriors, click here.

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