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Chris Murphy, Published December 06 2012

Sandy's wrath hits home for Force's captain

Fargo - Fargo Force captain and defenseman Dominic Racobaldo travels away from the ice to warmer temperatures when his mind ventures to some of his favorite memories.

Racobaldo remembers cars packed with friends and family, heading a little over an hour from his hometown of Pennsauken, N.J., to his favorite spots of Cape May, Wildwood and Margate. The ice is not the only place Racobaldo plays.

Many of Racobaldo’s memories are off the frozen tundra and on sandy beaches. But because of Hurricane Sandy, the memories of his beaches may be the only thing he has left.

“Basically my summer home life is down the shore, which is probably destroyed,” Racobaldo said. “It’s going to be weird going back down there in June. You just always think of things at home always looking the same, and it’s not going to be that way anymore.”

Memories have turned into viral pictures of the Wildwood boardwalk destroyed. And of Cape May, where Racobaldo’s family has a summer home, under water. And of the city of Margate drowning.

At least 24 people were killed in New Jersey and damage to the state is estimated at $30 billion.

“I haven’t seen the damage so far, but I’ve seen a lot of pictures,” Racobaldo said. “It looks bad.”

The 20-year-old Racobaldo has called Pennsauken home his entire life. For two days and nights in late October, the cold chill of a Fargo night was not the weather on the mind of Racobaldo, as he wondered how his mother, father, grandma and two sisters were doing, as Sandy made its mark on his home.

“They definitely got hit,” Racobaldo said. “The damage wasn’t as bad as it was on the coast, but they had two days where they couldn’t go anywhere.”

The Racobaldos lost power, but Dominic’s mother and father were able to charge their cell phones to keep communication open with Dominic.

“The night after everything, my mom had to stay overnight at the hospital where she works to help people,” Racobaldo said. “She said the next day it took an hour to drive home when our house is five minutes from the hospital. I knew they were OK, but I was scared and had that feeling in the back of my head.”

As it so often does, tragedy made way for true humanity.

“I still get questions from people asking me how my family is,” Racobaldo said. “I think it’s nice knowing that people do care and we’re not just brushing it under the rug.”

As for Racobaldo, he, along with nearly 100 other people, took to the ice to save the beaches Monday. The Force hosted a special fundraiser, giving people a chance to give donations, get player autographs and skate on the ice at Scheels Arena from 6 to 7 p.m.

The hour raised nearly $500 for the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

“It was a great feeling, knowing I could contribute in the slightest bit,” Racobaldo said. “I’m just trying to do what I can 1,400 miles away.”

Racobaldo not only has the New Jersey accent, but the stereotypical toughness that comes with it. He has 44 penalty minutes, which is 10 more than any other player on the Force. The captain will lead his team into Saturday’s home game versus Sioux City before the Force hit the road for 11 days.

As for the rest of the Racobaldos, they are doing what so many others are doing: Picking up the pieces.

“My house and family are fine, which is all that matters,” Racobaldo said. “They just started doing some cleaning up. They finally got rid of the last branches.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548