By Drew Karpen
Having won a state championship eight times, most recently during the 2003 campaign, the Meadville hockey program has been known for its outstanding play and dedication on the ice.
Over the last few years, however, the Bulldogs have become renowned for its charity work off the ice.
Starting in 2005, the Bulldogs partnered with the Susan G. Komen foundation, raising awareness and money for breast cancer with its Power Play for Prevention program. And since that time, according to one Bulldog source, the team have drummed approximately $50,000 for the cause.
Although the team has decided not to renew their partnership with the Susan G. Komen foundation this year, they have not forgotten about the importance of helping others.
The Bulldogs decided to stick with raising money and awareness for breast cancer, but with a local twist to it. The team has partnered up for the first time with the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute at the Meadville Medical Center.
“We are all about the community,” Meadville senior hockey player Cade Nickerson said. “They are very innovative in their survivorship program. They are ahead of the curve with their new breast cancer awareness program. It is a great feeling knowing that we are a part of a movement to try to get people’s lives back to normal.”
The YGBOI survivorship program focuses on physical, economical and psychosocial issues beyond diagnosing treatment.
“By helping them overcome their treatments,” clinical health breast nurse educator Sue Kilburn said, “we are trying to get their life back to a new normal.”
Just like previous years, the Bulldogs will have to rely on their performance on the ice to help reach their goals off the ice.
At the beginning of the season, the team will hand out pledge cards to everyone in attendance. On this card, everyone who participates may check one of the dollar amounts given or write in an amount themselves.
The selected amount of money from each participant will be raised every time the Bulldogs score a power play goal in the 2012-2013 season. At the end of the season, all participants will be billed based on the amount of power play goals the Bulldogs scored in relation to their pledge, and all money raised will be sent to the YGBOI for the breast cancer survivorship program.
“It is really something special,” Nickerson said. “It definitely motivates you to try harder knowing that you can make a difference.”
Meadville’s Power Play Partnership will begin on Oct. 1 during the Bulldogs’ Think Pink at the Rink game at Meadville Area Recreation Complex. The non-league game against Kittanning will have far more meaning than a normal contest.
The main attraction during the game will showcase a fan taking a “Fantasy Shot.” During intermission, one fan, drawn by raffle, will be selected for a chance to win a 2012 Jeep Patriot, donated by Griffin Motors. Amy Phillis, the wife of Meadville assistant head coach Scott Phillis, is the co-owner and dealer principal at Griffin Motors.
“We wanted to be able to support our community,” Amy Phillis said. “Breast cancer awareness is very important and we just wanted to give back.”
Kilburn was also moved by the Bulldogs hockey team’s choice to partner with the institute.
“I think it is great that these kids have an interest in helping these patients,” Kilburn said. “I was very impressed with the young men.”
To win the Jeep, the selected contestant will have one attempt to shoot the puck from center ice through a target hole in front of the net. The puck must completely cross the goal line.
In order for the contestant to be eligible, he or she must be 21 years old, have no significant background in hockey and have no relation to the promotion in any way.
“It is going to be tough,” Nickerson said. “I believe the hole is only like four inches wide.”
General admission for the game is $5, with all proceeds going to the YGBOI for the breast cancer survivorship program. Griffin Motors will also be donating $5 tickets for the “Fantasy Shot.”
Tickets went on sale Aug. 29, with the winner being notified eight hours before the game. The tickets will be available from any Bulldogs hockey player or parent. Those interested may also call Robin Nickerson at 573-4074.