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For Stoneman Douglas Eagles, national hockey tournament is about more than sports

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The Stoneman Douglas High School hockey team gathers at the net.
The Stoneman Douglas High School hockey team gathers at the net before their game again Regis Jesuit High School during the National High School Hockey Championship inside of Plymouth Ice Center on Thursday.
Evan Frost

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are competing in the USA Hockey National Championships in Plymouth this weekend.

The students who make up the Stoneman Douglas Eagles survived a mass shooting at their school last month, when 17 people were killed by a former student.

A Stoneman Douglas High School hockey player takes the puck up the rink.
A Stoneman Douglas High School hockey player takes the puck up the rink during a game in the National High School Hockey Championship.
Evan Frost | MPR News

"Everyone knowing what we came through to get here, it just makes you feel special, makes you play a little bit harder," said Matthew Hauptman, one of three students, along with the coach, to address a room full of cameras and reporters after Thursday's game against a team from Colorado.

Hauptman and teammate Matthew Horowitz plan to speak at a Saturday rally in Minnesota, one of many around the country that are part of the national March for Our Lives demonstration to end gun violence and mass shootings.

"We will never stop pushing," said Horowitz. "Our school is full of intelligent kids and we know we can make a change in this world."

Stoneman Douglas fans watch the team play.
Stoneman Douglas fans, many of whom traveled with the team from Florida, watch the hockey team play inside of Plymouth Ice Center.
Evan Frost

The team lost 7-1 against the Regis Jesuit team from Colorado on Thursday afternoon. The opposing team paid tribute to the Florida tragedy, with a 20-foot banner signed by students in Colorado that hung from the bleachers inside Plymouth Ice Center.

Florida's professional hockey team, The Panthers, let the team use their private plane to get to the tournament. Coach Eric LaForge said these acts of kindness help drive out the darkness.

"It's easy to get tied up in the negative and the sadness and the fear that's in front of you," said LaForge. "But it's important not to overlook the tremendous good that's out there."