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'A special night': Warriors' forward Ethan Hughes to be honoured at Hockey Fights Cancer game

On Saturday night the Moose Jaw Warriors will take on the Edmonton Oil Kings at home during their ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ game and will honour cancer survivor and current Warrior, Ethan Hughes.

“It’s definitely a special night and special game. So awesome that they do it. It’s definitely a huge honour,” said Hughes when asked about Saturday’s game.

Hughes was just 10 years old when he was diagnosed with stage one kidney cancer. He says he went to the hospital for stomach pain and scans found a Wilms tumour in his kidney, which lead to surgery and 19 weeks of chemotherapy.

“It was definitely hard but my family and friends were so supporting. My teammates at the time shaved their heads for me. I can’t thank those guys enough. It was incredible how much support I had,” recalled Hughes.

Hughes has three older brothers: Cameron, Ryan, and Liam who all play hockey as well. Cameron, 27, currently plays for the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Coachella Valley Firebirds. Ryan, 24, plays overseas in the EIHL for the Guildford Flames. Liam, 21, plays university hockey for Grant MacEwan.

Ethan said their support is what helped him believe he would still play hockey again someday while going through treatment.

“The doctors would have conversations [about my future,” he shared. “Some were bad, some were good. But I just kept fighting every day and got back to the ice pretty quickly. I was lucky enough to have my three brothers that were obviously supportive. They all play high level hockey and I don’t think I’d be here right now without them. I can’t thank those guys enough.”

(Photo courtesy of Pauline Hughes)

“It’s definitely special [having three brothers]. I mean, we’ve had some battles, some hard times but they are awesome. They make me better every day. We still FaceTime to this day because we haven’t seen each other in awhile.”

Hughes, 17, was called up for six games with the Warriors last season and even scored his first Western Hockey League (WHL) goal in that time. This season he has suited up for 16 games and has recorded two assists.

“It’s definitely different. It’s a lot more fun. I’m getting used to it, it’s been a couple months so it’s reality night and it’s awesome to be here every day,” said Hughes.

“He’s doing very well. He’s come a long way. His time with us last year I think was important for him, just in terms of development. He’s come in here a little bit more confident. I talked about our team doing better now than they were 10 games ago and he’s no different. He’s improving,” said head coach, Mark O’Leary.

November marks Hockey Fights Cancer Month across the National Hockey League (NHL) and Saturday’s game will mark the third time the Warriors have supported the program.

The team will wear a Hockey Fights Cancer themed jersey where fans can submit photos of loved ones to honour. Those pictures will be placed in the numbers on the jerseys that night and the jerseys will be sold through a silent auction. The team will also honour Hughes in a special tribute.

“I think anytime you have a player that has been through what Ethan has, first of all you don’t wish that on anybody, but to see the kid he is now and to know what he’s gone through to get to where he is. It pulls on you a little bit. You’re proud of the guy but at the same time it’s something hard and I can’t imagine. He’s an unbelievable kid,” said O’Leary.

“It’s unfortunate that he had to go through that but he fought through it and we’re super thankful to have him here. He’s starting to get more comfortable and talk a lot more and show his personality a little bit. We all love him,” said Warriors’ forward, Brayden Yager.

(Courtesy of the Moose Jaw Warriors)

“Net proceeds from the jerseys, pictures, and other initiatives offered that night will go to the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Cancer Society,” said the Moose Jaw Warriors organization.

The team also said having one of their own so close to a cause will serve as some extra motivation on such a special night.

“I think it would make it that much more special. I think anytime you have the opportunity to raise awareness over something like this and vertically to put the spotlight on someone like him, it’s important. A win would make it make it a little more special,” said O’Leary.

“It means a lot obviously for them to be thinking about me. It’s pretty special,” said Hughes.

“I think lots of us have family members and people that, you know, that have gone through cancer. It’s going to be a big night and everybody wants to try and get the win,” said Yager.

Puck drop for Saturday’s game is 7:00 p.m. Top Stories

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