By Kim Wrona
10/22/14 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies hosted their second annual Pink in the Rink weekend on Friday and Saturday at Leafs Ice Centre as they raised funds and awareness for breast cancer research.
The weekend was a success on and off the ice for NIU as an organization. The Huskies swept Eastern Illinois University by scores of 13-4 and 15-2 while $2,547 was raised for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
“I’m happy that everyone, in all aspects of the organization, were able to come together and promote and support the events that went on,” NIU general manager Ian Kalanges said. “It was good to see everyone from the players to the coaches, to the families to the staff, everyone coming together in the past few weeks to promote and make it a huge event.”
In front of 2 large crowds, the Huskies sported special pink jerseys on ice during the weekend and had them auctioned off after Saturday’s game where fans could bid on their favorite player’s sweater. There was also a raffle to win a pink jersey.
“With our first games here at Leafs, I was happy to see a packed building Friday night and mostly packed on Saturday,” Kalanges said. “The crowd got into it. I also like the fact that, on the fan side, there were 2 sold out fan buses, which was great to see the student support. It was definitely cool to hear the chants in the stands. Overall, [I was happy with] how well the raffle, the auction, all the little aspects to raise money [went]. We raised [funds] right where we wanted to be so, I’m happy with that.”
“It’s an awesome experience,” senior forward Mark Greenberg said. “Just dressing up in the pink jerseys, pink socks, pink laces for a great cause. Seeing your jersey auctioned off is always fun and seeing people bid on it, even if your parent winds up buying it in the end there. But it’s just fun to watch your teammates’ jerseys go to a good cause and it’s good to see all the fans come out and all the Leafs players come out. We had a pretty good student section there on Friday so it was pretty cool. They had some good chants going for us so it was a fun weekend for a good cause.”
“It was cool,” freshman forward Eric Svejda said, “especially Friday since we had a big fan section; [we] sold out 2 fan buses, so that was really neat. The jerseys were pretty neat. I think my mom was really excited because she got a pink jersey finally. It was, overall, a cool vibe around the rink. Everyone was just looking forward to the game and it just couldn’t come fast enough that whole week.”
“It was interesting,” freshman goaltender and Saturday’s starter Nick Bove said about the jersey auction. “I mean, probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen is I got a standing ‘O’ for being announced as the goalie. I thought that was cool. I never had that happen before. I thought it was interesting. It was fun to do that, especially for a good cause, so I really enjoyed getting to come out there and getting to see everybody in their pink jerseys. It was a good experience.”
NIU Hockey is looking forward to continuing the Pink in the Rink tradition for seasons to come.
“The ACHA likes for teams to do one sort of community service throughout the year,” Kalanges said. “We, in a way, do multiple ones, but this is definitely the biggest one that we do throughout the year. We’re for sure going to do it moving forward next year now that we’re settled in here again. There’s a few other small things that came up for next year that we definitely will add to the Pink in the Rink games to help raise more money and help make more of a weekend out of it.”