Every year here in Stockton a special weekend occurs at Stockton Arena when we raise awareness for breast cancer, as well as help the cause by collecting donations towards research and contribute to various organizations that fight against breast cancer.
Re-branded as Hot Pink 1 presented by Dignity Health St. Josephs Medical Center, Stockton Arena will be completely pinked out November 6th and 7th with the sole goal of benefiting those who have suffered or who have friends or loved ones who have suffered from this horrible ailment in hopes that one day we can unite and defeat the disease once and for all.
As far as the players are concerned, the message is clear – Friday and Saturday’s games mean a lot to them both on and off the ice.
“It’s a good idea because everybody knows breast cancer is a huge problem in this world,” defenseman Jakub Nakladal said. “I hope that we can help somebody by playing these games and raise some money for charity.”
Nakladal has played in some breast cancer awareness games in Europe prior to joining the Stockton Heat this season and said that these games are important, especially when looking to the future and trying to lessen the prevalence of breast cancer in society.
Another player that has participated in similar games is Nakladal’s defensive partner Tyler Wotherspoon.
“I haven’t had anybody in my family personally affected – luckily – but I have had close friends that have dealt with the issue, so it’s close to heart for me,” Wotherspoon said. “I played four years in Portland [Winterhawks, WHL] and we did it each year. It’s nice to be able to support it and fight for it.”
One of the biggest draws for fans is to see the spectacle of the ice sheet being painted pink for both teams to play on all weekend.
While it might be different initially, Bryce Van Brabant doesn’t think it will make a difference in the game at all other than add to the environment in which the game is played.
“We skated on it today and it wasn’t bad,” Van Brabant said. “I don’t think it’s something that will be a distraction. It’s not a concern.”
Defenseman Kenney Morrison added to Van Brabant’s statement.
“I don’t think it changes the game,” Morrison said. “It puts an emphasis on what’s going on here this weekend.”
At the end of the day, these guys all know that their positions as professional hockey players allows them a platform to help benefit certain causes throughout the course of a season.
Van Brabant perhaps said it best.
“We play a game every day,” Van Brabant explained. “The fact that we can help out some people in the community that need it is a nice perk of our job.”