by Samantha Poulos | AHL On The Beat Archive
The San Antonio Rampage will pink out the AT&T Center this week as they honor those who have passed away from breast cancer and celebrate stories of survival with their fifth annual Pink in the Rink game presented by the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, a longtime partner of the Rampage’s awareness efforts.
For the first time in franchise history, the Rampage will skate on pink ice for two games, the first on Thursday when San Antonio takes on in-state rival Texas Stars
, and the second on Saturday when the division and conference leading Oklahoma City Barons
come to town.
“The color of the ice is pretty cool and a lot of fans come out, so it’s pretty exciting to be playing in a Pink in the Rink game,” defenseman Alex Petrovic
“It’s definitely an honor to be a part of that game,” added winger Garrett Wilson
. “It’s cool with the pink jerseys, so it’s an honor to be playing for such a good cause.”
The games are not the only events planned this year, as this year’s Pink Week includes seven days of celebrations and fundraisers to benefit various breast cancer awareness and research efforts. Even the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs are getting involved in the efforts.
The Rampage wives and girlfriends will host a fundraiser on the concourse of the Spurs game against the Orlando Magic Wednesday with all proceeds being donated to the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Foundation and benefitting their cancer program. In addition, four breast cancer survivors will be treated to a makeover at Pure Posh Salon followed by a night out at the Spurs game against the Miami Heat on Friday.
The Silver and Black hosted their annual Survivor Skate on Monday night to kick off the event, as more than 90 cancer survivors enjoyed the first chance to skate on the pink ice along with Rampage defensemen Jesse Blacker
and Jonathan Racine
and forwards Quinton Howden
and Tony Turgeon
. The players’ game-worn pink jerseys will also be auctioned off after Saturday’s bout with the Barons with proceeds benefitting breast cancer awareness and research efforts. The Rampage have raised more than $152,000 for breast cancer to date.
While wins on the ice are key for the Rampage, who play their last two games this weekend before hitting the road for their annual Rodeo Road Trip, the team looks forward to honoring those who have lost their battle to breast cancer and celebrating the survivors who have overcome many obstacles in their fight.
“I think every time you play in a game like Pink in the Rink it’s a special night and it’s one you want to play your best in and find a way to win as a team,” John McFarland
Pink in the Rink has an even deeper meaning for the Rampage locker room, as the team will play to honor teammates who have personally been affected by breast cancer.
’s aunt is a breast cancer survivor, while Blacker lost his mother to breast cancer in 2008 when he was in his second year of junior hockey and just 17 years old.
Before taking the ice, Blacker writes her initials on his stick and knows she is with him on the ice in every game he plays.
“I think she’d definitely be happy about a pink rink,” Blacker said. “It would have special meaning to her.”
Both Petrovic and McFarland will skate in their third Pink in the Rink game. As a rookie, McFarland scored his first AHL goal, a game-winner, in front of a sell-out crowd of 16,205 fans at the AT&T Center. He fights for his cousin Maddie who was diagnosed at a young age with leukemia and has since beaten her cancer.
“It’s incredible to be a part of a game that is for such a great cause and I am thankful to be able to play my part in helping raise awareness,” he said.
Petrovic, who was a rookie the same year as McFarland, keeps his Face Off Against Kids Cancer buddy in the back of his mind during Pink in the Rink.
“I couldn’t imagine dealing with that,” Petrovic said. “It’s scary, but if we can keep their minds off of it for a little bit when hanging out with them then that’s great. Whenever we get a chance to help someone out doing what we love, it really is awesome.”
“It means a lot to be playing for them and it’s cool to do my part through hockey,” added Wilson. “It’s a big honor to be a part of Pink in the Rink and any way we can raise awareness or funds is huge.”