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Hockey Fights Cancer

Cancer survivor, hockey player Charlie Goergen says “Let’s Play Hockey!”

Charlie Goergen gives the Let's Play Hockey! call before the Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild game on Nov. 12, 2023. (MHM Photo / Heather Rule)

While the Minnesota Wild didn’t put up much fight (Connor Dewar vs. Craig Smith scrap aside) in an awful 8-3 loss to the Dallas Stars, it was still Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center.

Charlie Goergen, a cancer survivor and hockey player from Robbinsdale Armstrong/Cooper’s varsity boys team, was selected for the traditional “Let’s Plan Hockey!” announcement prior to the Wild game. The Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night is a joint initiative of the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association powered by the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Even though he only had a couple of lines to remember for the call, Goergen said it was nerve-wracking but also fun.

“I was super excited and super honored,” Goergen said. “Because saying ‘Let’s Play Hockey,’ I think it’s a big deal. I think it’s very fun.”

Goergen was one of three cancer survivors the Wild featured throughout the evening. Fourteen-year-old Aspen Heisler, a sled hockey player, brought the Wild flag to center ice before player introductions as the game’s honorary flag bearer. Another sled hockey player, and recipient of the 2023 USA Hockey Disabled Athlete of the Year award, Alex Gullingsrud, was featured on the videoboard during the first intermission.

Lavender is part of the theme for the annual Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night at Xcel Energy Center in a game between the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild. (MHM Photo / Heather Rule)

Back in January, Goergen found a lump on his neck and went to a couple of doctors to get it checked out. Eventually, he went to a cancer research facility and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

This was about halfway through his junior hockey season with Armstrong /Cooper.

“So, I was going through chemo(therapy) as I was playing hockey still,” Goergen said. “And luckily, I only missed a few games and some practices. It didn’t take that much of a dent out of my season.”

Chemo every other Friday kept him out for four or five days afterward where he “couldn’t really do anything” and just stayed home with “really low” energy levels.

Looking at his stats, you wouldn’t know Goergen had anything altering his season, even if he wasn’t 100% on the ice. He finished third on his team in points (35) and second in assists (21). He said he was just glad to be able to finish out the season.

Goergen obviously had the support of his family during his cancer battle last winter. He also had his hockey community behind him. Not just his Armstrong /Cooper teammates but the whole organization starting at the youth levels.

“They got No. 10 stickers on their helmets because that’s my number,” Goergen said. “It was really cool to see the support that I was surrounded with throughout that time.”

Knowing that he had so many people supporting him helped; he wasn’t just playing for him but for all of his supporters who wanted to see him succeed, Goergen said.

“It was obviously a really hard time,” Goergen said. “But I battled through it with the support of my teammates, coaches, family and everything.”

By April, his body had beaten the cancer. He received the good news in May and has been in remission ever since. He recently had his six-month check-up scan and will meet with doctors soon to go over the results.

In the meantime, Goergen is preparing for his senior hockey season with Armstrong /Cooper. Captain’s practices started in October and finished up just before the Hockey Fights Cancer night, with team tryouts this week. Only a couple of days before Goergen said “Let’s Play Hockey!” at Xcel Energy Center, he was named one of Armstrong /Cooper’s captains this season.

Goergen has played hockey his whole life, starting after he’d watched his two older brothers play. Naturally, he’s a Wild fan, too. He knew about the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative before, but he didn’t know many people affected by cancer.

“So, it was never a main focal point of my life… I never understood it fully,” said Goergen, who watched Sunday’s Wild game from a suite with his parents and six older siblings, and a couple of their significant others. “But once I got diagnosed, I realized this is a really important night for a lot of people.

“I think it’s just a great thing that they’re doing.”

He said he wants to have as much fun as possible during his senior season of hockey and see how far his team can go, hopefully improving along the way. They finished 10-14-2 last season, losing in the section quarterfinals to powerhouse Edina. After high school, Goergen would love to play junior hockey, hoping to reach the North American Hockey League.

Like every high school hockey player, he’d also love to be on the ice at the X in a few months. To play in the state tournament.

“If you get to the X, you know you’ve succeeded,” Goergen said.

He’s already succeeded in fighting cancer.

Heather's love for watching hockey started when the Minnesota Wild came to town in 2000. Before that, she caught a few Minnesota Moose games as a youngster, and more recently she's kept up with the Austin Bruins and Fargo Force. She's a writer, freelance journalist and blogger who previously worked as a news reporter in Austin and Fergus Falls, Minn. She enjoys watching sports and closely follows the Wild, Minnesota Twins, IndyCar Series, tennis and prep sports. Heather keeps up her sports blog Thoughts from the Stands. You can follow her on Twitter/X @hlrule or Instagram @hlrule.

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