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Hockey stars return to Duluth for summer classic

Past, present and future hockey stars are expected to turn out for this week's Heritage Summer Hockey Classic.

The game, featuring familiar Northland hockey names such as Jamie Langenbrunner, Drew LeBlanc and Jack Connolly, will be played Tuesday at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center. Now in its second year, the annual game benefits the Ray Peterson Fund, which distributes funds to low-income young athletes in the community.

More than 60 invitations have been sent to local athletes, according to a press release. Expected to play are Langenbrunner, a Cloquet native and longtime NHL star; LeBlanc, a former Hermantown High School player and winner of the 2013 Hobey Baker Award at St. Cloud State; Jack Connolly, a Duluth native and winner of the 2012 Hobey Baker Award at Minnesota Duluth; Connolly's brother Chris, a member of the 2011 Boston University national championship team; Gina Dodge, a Duluth native and former UMD Bulldog; and Olympian Patty Ellsmore-Sauter.

"These players are always in demand, and while I know that most would want to help the kids of our community, there's a lot of pressure on their personal schedules" said Butch Williams, a former NHL player and coordinator of the event. "But we have high hopes they'll find the time to help us make this event a success."

Last year, an estimated 300 fans attended the game, raising more than $2,500 for the fund, which is managed by the Duluth Heritage Sports Center Foundation. The event also includes a silent auction featuring autographed hockey jerseys and other sports memorabilia.

Tickets for the game and auction are $10 and are on sale at the DHSC office and other local outlets.