Women’s Ice Hockey Paints the Rink Pink

Aeriel Niccum | Lindenlink Reporter

*Photo courtesy of www.lindenwood.edu.*

Every year, Division One ice hockey teams participate separately in Pink the Rink, a breast cancer benefit game that raises funds for various avenues concerning breast cancer. The team hosting the event, as well as the host team’s fans, wear pink to show their support and essentially “paint the rink pink”.

Lindenwood’s women’s ice hockey team held their respective event this past Friday, Feb. 1, against the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers at the Lindenwood ice arena in Wentzville, Mo. The house was packed with ice hockey fans for both teams as well as special guests such as the Towel Man and mascot Louie from the Blues.

Lindenwood player Rachel Weich’s mother was honored before the start of the game as a survivor of breast cancer and was given the unique opportunity to perform the ceremonial puck drop. Several fundraisers also took place throughout the game as well as the traditional “Chuck a Puck” competition familiar to hockey fans.

During regulation game time both teams put up a strong fight, holding each other off at a tie, one goal apiece. During a five-minute overtime, both teams again put up great shots on goal countered by great saves leaving both teams to accept the 1-1 tie.

Concerning the game overall Coach Vince O’Mara commented, “We’ve just switched over from ACHA [American Collegiate Hockey Association] to NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] Division One. It’s a whole different beast. We built a nine-time national championship team under the ACHA and are slowly building a national championship team for Division One,” O’Mara said. “It will take some time, but we are on the way. The girls have a lot of great spirit.”

About the Pink the Rink aspect of the game Coach O’Mara said, “We have players whose family members are associated with SSM [Sister of Saint Mary’s]. All the proceeds from the game go to research as well as wigs for patients. The goal is to educate people about cancer,” O’Mara said.

Coach O’Mara also said that the Pink the Rink game is near and dear to his heart, but not just because of his players’ families. His wife battled breast cancer for six years before passing away in Feb. 2011 . She fought valiantly, never missing a beat in daily life, as she beat cancer in one breast, then the other, and then beat a different form of the cancer only to have it attack her hip and eventually leave her vulnerable to the liver infection that took her life nearly two years ago.

Overall the game was a perfect success.  “The game was entertaining and just as a college sporting event should be. The band, the packed house; it shows what the LU family is really all about,” O’Mara said. “It gave us a change to give back to the community and it was great to have all the support.”