Florida evacuees in Nashville using hockey to escape Irma

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nashville Predators are among the groups helping victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma. The team is raising money and collecting items with their rookie games at the Ford Ice Center.

“Trying to make the best out of a tough situation,” said Jacksonville, Florida native Jacob Hugel.

In a large crowd of gold at the Ford Ice Center on Saturday, it was not hard to find the fans with something else on their mind.
“We decided to come to a place that is safe for the most part from the storm and to have some fun,” said Hugel.

Many Floridians are in Nashville rooting on the Tampa Bay Lightning rookies while dodging Hurricane Irma. However, it is still hard to focus on what is happening on the ice.

“Our place is by the water so we don’t know what is going to happen,” said Tarek Dahdul, of Tampa, Florida.

Part of the NHL Rookie Tournament was set to be played in Tampa this weekend. The teams decided to relocate it to Music City because of the storm.

“When the original plan that the hurricane was going to go to the east coast or the middle of the state, we were fine with that. Once it came into the gulf yesterday, as strong and big as it was, better safe than sorry,” Richard Wimmer said.

With the large crowds, the Nashville Predators are doing their part to help people among the devastation. The rookie games on Sunday and Tuesday are open to the public and the team is taking a donation at the door for hurricane relief.

“For games today, tomorrow and Tuesday, we are doing donations at the door for hurricane relief. You know, wherever that needs to go whether its Florida or Houston,” said Danny Butler, General Manager of the Ford Ice Center.

Dahdul said leaving Tampa was a tough decision but as the storm takes aim, he knows they made the right one.

“We brought the most valuable stuff with us but you don’t know what else is down there. It definitely can ruin some things,” said Dahdul.

For several of these fans, getting a chance to watch their favorite team is taking their mind off Irma and the devastation to come.

“I love the Tampa Bay Lightning so I’m glad that they are here too,” said Jessica Wimmer, of Northport, Florida.

The Ford Ice Center is a drop-off location for necessities like over the counter medicine, socks, underwear, bed linens, etc.

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