Colin Hass of the M&M Thunder gets poke-checked by a Pettit player Saturday. Hass wore pink laces on his right skate for breast cancer awareness, and green paces on his other skate for liver cancer awareness. EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Colin Hass of the M&M Thunder gets poke-checked by a Pettit player Saturday. Hass wore pink laces on his right skate for breast cancer awareness, and green paces on his other skate for liver cancer awareness. EagleHerald/Jody Korch
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MARINETTE - All things considered, a hockey loss seemed trivial for the M&M Thunder Saturday evening.

The sight of Drew Christensen at the Civic Center made the Thunder's entire season.

Christensen recently had a large tumor removed from his liver, but he was back to watch his teammates.

Thunder junior Colin Hass didn't expect to see Christensen at the rink Saturday.

"I was really happy to see him here today," Hass said. "Even though we didn't win, it was a big boost for our team to know he's up and out of his bed."

The Thunder held its annual Pink Out game. During the first intermission, the Youth Advisory Committee of the M&M Community Foundation held a Teddy Bear Toss, with bears earmarked toward pediatric oncology patients and proceeds from the sale of bears toward St. Baldrick's Foundation, which raises funds for childhood cancer research.

Proceeds from Pink Out apparel, bucket raffles, 50/50 raffle and a bake sale will benefit the Drew Christensen Medical Expense Fund.

Sales were brisk, and the place was packed.

"It's really nice that everybody's doing this," Christensen said. "I really appreciate it. I didn't expect there to be as many people as there was. Thankful for all the support from the team. I'd like to thank them for honoring me."

The Thunder fell behind Milwaukee Pettit 2-0 in the first period, then dominated the second period. Defenseman Tyler Oleson scored his first high school goal on a slapshot from the point. Denin Bieberitz earned an assist. On a 5 on 3 power play, Gunther DeDamos and Carson Lovedale then assisted on a Bieberitz goal, and defenseman Jake Swenson scored on a Luke Kraus assist.

Trailing 3-2, Pettit scored four goals in a 5:34 stretch of the third period. DeDamos scored on a Bieberitz assist with 32.3 seconds left. Pettit won 6-4, but the loss wasn't on the Thunder's minds.

"Hockey is just a game," Thunder coach Paul Aftanas said. "It's disappointing to lose, but at the end of the day everybody's happy to see him back. Two weeks ago we didn't know if it was even possible. Just having him back was worth 10 wins, 100 wins."

The Thunder players have learned the real meaning of "teamwork."

"We've got to be there more than ever," Hass said. "Now it's not just about winning games, it's his life. We've got to be more than teammates now, we've got to be friends."

Christensen, a Marinette High School freshman, is the Thunder's backup goalie, and he's planning to be back on the ice.

"I think I will," he said. "I think I should be better by next season."