PRINCE GEORGE, Va. — Matt Dobbs patrols solo during his shifts in Prince George County. But the veteran officer relishes being part of a team.
“Been a police officer for almost five years now,” said Matt. “Serving and protecting means everything.”
Matt understood tremendous pressure comes with taking the oath.
“You never know what you’re going to encounter. Every call is different,” said Matt.
Matt knows the perfect way for him and his fellow officers to put the weight of their jobs on ice.
“A lot of us have turned to extra curricular activities outside the workplace,” explained Matt. “I picked up a hockey stick a long time ago. Loved it ever since.”
Once a week, he and other officers from Chesterfield and Hopewell, deputies from Hanover and Henrico and state troopers all wear the same uniform.
“It is a lot of fun to do something outside of the workplace. It builds your bond stronger and get to enjoy a game of hockey along the way,” described Matt.
The first responders make up the Prince George Patriots. Matt serves as team captain.
“We have a tremendous amount of fun on the ice together,” he said.
The team, founded in 2021, doesn’t compete in an organized league. The Patriots skate against other first responder hockey teams from across the Commonwealth.
Ryan Winfree is the general manager of the Powhatan Ice Den — The Patriots home ice.
“They have too much fun,” said Ryan. “It has been really nice to see them get out here. This is their stress relief. It is a way to keep their brotherhood going and playing a game that they love.”
The team is so much more than just scoring goals. The Patriots play to give back. In a little more than a year their charity games have raised thousands of dollars for ALS, Stand Up to Cancer and the Marine Corps Toys for Tots.
“We take these charity games personally. We try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes,” said Matt.
On Saturday, the Patriots will duel the Peninsula Irons — a team of firefighters from the Yorktown area.
But the teams will be thinking of someone who will not be in the stands.
“It is a tight. It is a close family atmosphere. We don’t want to see that happen to anybody. So we want to take care of our own when something like that does happen,” said Matt.
On January 23, 2020, Newport News Officer and mother of one Katie Thyne was killed in the line of duty. Proceeds from the game will benefit Katie’s daughter Raegan.
“We do enjoy playing ice hockey and we have a lot of fun doing it. But if we can do this to help others that is the ultimate goal,” said Matt.
He said rallying around Raegan and protecting Katie’s legacy is why they skate.
“You never know what your next call will be,” said Matt.
The Prince George Patriots, a hockey team protecting more than just their own net. They are dedicated police officers whose frozen feats can melt hearts.
“It doesn’t matter if it is the badge we’re wearing on our chest or the jersey we are wearing on the ice,” said Matt. The bond is strong.”
Tickets to Saturday afternoon’s charity game can be found on the Prince George Patriots Facebook page or the Eventbrite website. Puck drops at 4:30 p.m. at the Powhatan Ice Den.
You can also watch Greg McQuade's "Heroes Among Us" reports Thursdays on CBS 6 News at 6 p.m.
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