Tampa Bay Lightning
Hockey pros, police take to ice in fallen officer's memory
TAMPA - Members of the Tampa Police Department shared a locker room, suited up with players from the Tampa Bay Lightning and then hit the ice today for a charity scrimmage at the St. Pete Times Forum. The game, part of the Bolts' annual Fan Fest, was to benefit the Cpl. Mike Roberts Memorial Fund. Roberts, 38, a member of the Tampa Police Department who was shot and killed in the line of duty Aug. 19, played goaltender for the TPD hockey team. Members of the TPD hockey team played alongside current Lightning players including Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, as well as former players Brian Bradley, Chris Dingman, Stan Neckar and Dave Andreychuk. "I think it's [the game] is very fitting," Andreychuk said. "The emotions are pretty high in here ... he's here with us right now and I'm excited to be here."Inside the locker room, the late Roberts' wife, Cindy Roberts, scooped up her 3-year-old son, Adam, and carried him around to meet the players while they laced up their skates. The players all donned the No. 12 on their jersey for the benefit game in honor of Roberts. He was promoted to the rank of corporal July 12 and received 33 commendations and awards for his service. He was the 27th Tampa police officer killed in the line of duty. The generosity shown by the Bolts was overwhelming, said Tampa police Det. Mike Hutner, Tampa police hockey teammate and friend of Roberts. "It's incredible, this would mean the world to him," said Hutner, who put on his pads next to Andreychuk. "Its definitely sad, and we miss him. But it's more about what this team did for his family." Bolts fan Cookie Gross held a homemade sign up to the rink glass and clapped loudly for every player called to the ice. The Florida native went to her first hockey game in 2001, fell in love with the sport and became a season ticket holder in 2003. The Roberts benefit game was a tribute she wanted to be a part of, Gross said. "He is a part of the community and the Lightning wanted to give back. This just warms my heart," she said. "He paid the ultimate price for his service." Players' jerseys worn on ice were autographed and auctioned off for the memorial fund. Fans could also make cash donations at several donation bowls around the arena. In addition to the charity game, the event also featured youth hockey clinics, autograph sessions and public skating. Donations can be made to the Tampa Police Memorial Fund by sending checks to 411 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602. In the check's memo section, write: Cpl. Mike Roberts Memorial Fund.
Reporter Sarah Hoye can be reached at (813) 259-7832.