Jack Barney, 13, appropriately got a police escort to his hockey game on Saturday. Though it made the teen smile, it wasn’t the most joyous ride to the ice.
His father, Doug Barney, of the Unified Police Department in Salt Lake City, Utah was shot and killed in the line of duty six days earlier.
Doug left behind his wife of nearly 20 years, Erika, and their three children, Matti, 18, Merri, 16, and Jack.
With Jack suiting up for his first hockey game since his father’s death, the folks in blue rallied around him. In what could have been a grim occasion, Salt Lake area police officers and firefighters not only drove Jack to his game, but they stayed and cheered him on.
“I’m going to be thinking of him whenever I look up in the crowd,” Jack said prior to the puck dropping. “I’ll try making as many goals or as many assists as I can just for him.”
In superhero fashion, Jack scored a critical goal in the third period to help his team to a 4-3 win. The crowd went wild for Jack, and for Doug Barney, who was honored before the game with a ceremony, and with players wearing ‘DH’ stickers.
“I really like all the community support,” Jack said. “There’s been so much going on for us. Everyone has been coming out and coming to our house, and saying, ‘Thank you for your dad’s service.'”
The support that has anchored Jack and his family carried into the heavy week. Doug was honored on Monday at a funeral service attended by thousands, with thousands more lining the flag filled streets to salute the hearse carrying his casket.
The weekend hockey game was one thing, but take a look at how Jack stood up to honor his father. He helped carry the casket and then stood there, alone with his father, as the bagpipes played, soaking in one last moment.
Hockey players are, indeed, as tough as they come.