Fire Off the Ice: UNO hockey players feel the support of their team in the aftermath of the Scott Village residence hall fire

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Someone’s place of living going up in flames usually is traumatic for most people, let alone students. Of the 42 students that lived in Scott Village Building G, Which caught fire Feb. 26., eight of them were freshman members of the University Nebraska at Omaha hockey team. Jake Guentzel, Austin Ortega, Justin Parizek and Jono Davis lived in one room. Kirk Thompson, Reed Peters, Matt Youso and Ian Brady lived in another room.
Brady was in his dorm as the fire started.
“I had class at 4:00 p.m., so I was doing homework, and the fire alarms went off. I didn’t really think anything of it, so I kind of just stayed in my room and kept doing homework. Then all of sudden I heard people start saying ‘Get out of the building, there’s a fire,’” Brady said.
Brady stepped out of the room and realized the severity of the situation.
“People were all running around the building, so I just got up and walked out and looked up and there was black smoke everywhere. I said ‘this isn’t good,’” Brady said. “I said ‘‘Yous’ we got to go we got to go,’ so he grabbed his laptop and got out of there.”
The other players, like Guentzel, were away from the dorm at the time but rushed back as soon as they learned of the fire.
“Ian sent us a Snapchat of the fire and it was just kind of an eye-opener,” Guentzel said. “So we ran back and tried getting back as fast as we could.”
When they all got to the scene, reality set in as smoke billowed to the sky and flames rippled upon the roof.
“Well, at first I didn’t think it was a big fire. I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal,” Ortega said. “Then when we first got there, it ended up being a whole building. At first, it was just a shock, and we were just hoping nothing bad would happen.”
Ortega, whose home is in Escondido, Calif. had everything in that dorm room. Fortunately, he didn’t lose much.
“Mostly just my bedding, a lot of clothes but my electronics were good,” Ortega said. “I had a good amount of valuables in there. A lot of clothes I lost, but the most important things were fine which is good for me.”
The player’s rooms were on the bottom floor of Building G and suffered mostly water and smoke damage. Following the event, the athletic department and teammates were quick to help with anything the players needed.
“Right after it, like two hours after, they got us supplies. They put us in a hotel they got us food; they did whatever we needed,” Brady said. “Teammates called right away saying ‘If you need a place to stay, you can come over. We have an extra bed.’”
The support from their fellow teammates was something that has helped aid in the tough situation.
“I remember getting a call from a lot of teammates, a lot of texts just, trying to help out however they can- giving us clothes or a place to stay.  The team was in really good support when it was happening,” Ortega said.
“Michael Young…offered to make us dinner that night, so it was really nice to see how many people care about us,” Brady said.
Between this fire and a recent injury to senior Zahn Raubenheimer, the distractions have been mounting for the Mavs at the turning point of the season. However, adversity is nothing new to this team, and the players believe it will only continue to fuel them.
“It’s just an experience that happened, and we’ve got to turn the page now and move on,” Guentzel said.
The cause of the fire, a cigarette, has been a topic of controversy within the UNO community. But any anger has been set aside.
“I just found out how it did start, but obviously it was an accident,” Ortega said. “Obviously I’m a little upset and wish it didn’t happen but accidents happen.”
Through the adversity, the spirit within the athletic department and entire university was able to shine through.
“It really shows this university truly is a family. Everyone comes together during these hard times, and it just means a lot,” Brady said. “And we appreciate everything everyone did for us.”
It’s an event that everyone must move on from, athletes included.
“It’s definitely been a life event. Something that we’ve never dealt with. Obviously, we’re moving on from it and we’re all settled in, which is a good thing. We’re all taken care of. It’s obviously something that we’ve overcome and just move on now,” Ortega said.
The Mavs will face Denver in the first round of the NCHC playoffs at home starting Thursday night at 7:37 p.m., game one of a best of three series.

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