MONTVALE, N.J. — Montvale native Sgt. Ryan Hawkins had more than St. Patrick's Day to celebrate on Thursday.
While being honored as the "Hero of the Game," Hawkins got to see his childhood friend and New Jersey Devils player Kyle Palmieri on the ice during the game against the Minnesota Wild at Prudential Center in Newark.
The two played on Montvale's travel team, Arsenal Soccer Club, during their youth.
Hawkins got a call from his friends when the New Jersey Devils announced the team’s off-season trade for Palmieri last June.
“It feels good,” Hawkins said in a press release. “It’s nice to get appreciated, being a small town kid, with something like this.”
Hawkins and Palmieri followed different paths as they grew older. Palmieri's led to the NHL in 2009. Three days later, Hawkins joined the U.S. Army, motivated by the 9/11 attacks.
In his years of service, Hawkins has received six Army Achievement Medals, two Overseas Service Ribbons and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
He wasn't sure he qualified as the hero of the Devils game, though, suggesting that title belongs to the fellow troops who laid down their lives in service.
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