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Unit members sharpen their skates against autism

Capt. Aaron Shick (on left), 111th Air Operations Group logistics officer, and Capt. Robyn Thome, 111th Force Support Squadron director of personnel, get fired up for the upcoming hockey tournament slated to be held April 25, 2015, at Ice Line Quad Rinks in West Chester, Pa. The tournament is sponsored to increase awareness and combat autism. (U.S. Air Guard photo illustration by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum/Released)

Capt. Aaron Shick (on left), 111th Air Operations Group logistics officer, and Capt. Robyn Thome, 111th Force Support Squadron director of personnel, get fired up for the upcoming hockey tournament slated to be held April 25, 2015, at Ice Line Quad Rinks in West Chester, Pa. The tournament is sponsored to increase awareness and combat autism. (U.S. Air Guard photo illustration by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum/Released)

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- The 111th Attack Wing ice hockey athletes will square off against area teams from 1:30 - 6 p.m., April 25 at the Ice Line Quad Rinks in West Chester, for the Face Off for Autism event to help combat autism and increase awareness.

"We've been playing for some time, but the informal team just came about," said hockey center Capt. Howard Evans, directorate lead with the 111th Air Operations Group. "The ten-man team is mainly comprised of unit members. I'll be playing alongside my son [Frank] who's also on the team."

The self-proclaimed Horsham Reapers will compete in a field of 16 area teams in 30-minute matches during the one-day event. The facility has four rinks, so the gameplay pace is slated to be fast.

"In active duty at Kirkland [Air Force Base, New Mexico], we had two teams that would travel down to Las Vegas," said Reaper team captain and goalie, Senior Airman Jason Thomas of the 111th Security Forces Squadron. "I always wanted to form my own team once I joined the Guard."

"It's about the fun. Saturday's event will be played under gentleman's rules: no referees, penalties or icing the puck," added Thomas. "This is just the start. We plan on entering many more area competition in the future."

The Reapers join a diverse group of unit-related athletic teams to include the 111th Attack Wing's dragon boat rowers -- called the Argonauts -- and the currently-rebuilding wing marksmanship team.