The Saint Ignatius junior varsity hockey team returns to the ice 2 months after the team bus was hit by a suspected drunk driver

CHICAGO (WLS) — There was a special atmosphere in this whole arena on Sunday evening. A lot of emotion as these kids get back to some normalcy of playing hockey.

It’s been two months since the junior varsity team played a game, and before heading back onto the ice on Sunday, they made sure to honor the Indiana first responders.

“I have a feeling they’re playing the Stanley Cup tonight,” said Wendy Cook, the mother of a freshman.

A surge of emotion was felt for the Saint Ignatius junior varsity hockey team as they returned to their home ice just two months after the team’s bus was hit by a suspected drunk driver in Warsaw, Indiana.

RELATED: The half-driver has been charged in an Indiana bus crash that injured 16 Saint Ignatius hockey players over the weekend

This crash followed a tournament game in November and injured 16 people, including students and staff. Three of those students were still recovering from serious injuries but were able to be with the team.

“This whole thing just brought us very close together,” said team captain Lucas Joa. “We’re just so glad they’re doing well and that they can be here with us.”

Before the puck was released, there was a special moment to honor the Indiana first responders who assisted the team the night of the accident.

“As bad as the situation was, to be here and see these kids play tonight – it’s just amazing. We are grateful and humbled to be a part of it,” said Brad Kellar of the Warsaw Police.

Support for this team has poured in with hundreds of letters that have been mailed in and are now hanging on the walls of the arena.

RELATED: Families of St. Ignatius hockey players sue half-drivers, trucking companies over bus crash: Lawyers

And in the stands, that support was taken to another level as the St. Ignatius community was united and overwhelmed with emotion as the children got back to doing what they love.

“The support has been overwhelming in a positive way,” said coach Michael Rigitano. “Not just from a tight-knit hockey community, but from across the nation. We heard from a lot of people abroad, so it was just spotless.”

The team now faces a stretch of several games in a short amount of time to catch up on games that have been postponed over the past two months.

But the wolf pack moves forward together..

“I think it just showed that our team can get through pretty much anything – even that we can pull through,” said Joa.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All rights reserved.