Original article written by Jared Book for Eyes on the Prize here. This article has been edited and shortened.
Montreal, QC (Feb. 21 2019) –– On February 23, Les Canadiennes and the defending Clarkson Cup Champions, the Markham Thunder, will face each other for Montreal’s ninth annual edition of their Pink in the Rink game in the fight against breast cancer.
The game will be played on the Laval Rocket’s state-of-the-art ice rink, its biggest stage to date, and feature several stars on both teams.
Household names Marie-Philip Poulin, Geneviève Lacasse, and Emerance Maschmeyer were not the biggest stars at the hospital on Feb. 6 when the players and a group of volunteers and staff visited the hospital. Surrounded by family, breast cancer survivor Malia Morsly shared her story to Les Canadiennes in her hospital room. A day prior, she had undergone surgery.
“This was my Olympics,” Morsly said. “And now I’m close to the gold medal.”
If the family was in awe of the players when they walked in, the reverse was true as the players walked out.
“Our problems at home are nothing, to be honest,” said Poulin. “You meet these strong people and they go through hard times with a smile. They’re surrounded [by] great people. And that’s what life is all about… being able to be surrounded with people when life gets hard.”
General manager Meg Hewings not only offered her and her family tickets to Saturday’s game, but invited her to partake in a ceremonial puck drop.
After visiting Morsly, the players, dressed in surgery scrubs, witnessed an ongoing surgery as well.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Maschmeyer. “And I think we all felt the same way. You only really get to see those on TV shows. So it was pretty exciting, but also makes it real. It’s incredible what these doctors and surgeons do. It makes me appreciate what they do for us.”
The Canadiennes have raised over $100,000 for the Breast Clinic since its inception, including over $20,000 last season. The event started when players – including current coaches Caroline Ouellette and Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux – presented the idea to team management. The major attraction at these games is the auction, which includes one-of-a-kind memorabilia including the game-worn pink jerseys.
“We all played in breast cancer games throughout college,” said Lacasse. “But I think here, putting a face to the cause and just learning more about it and seeing it… It’s a really, really cool experience for us.”
The clinic, directed by Dr. Sarkis Meterissian, sees over 650 new patients per year, and just about 12,000 overall. The good news is that breast cancer has a cure rate of close to 90%. The Breast Clinic’s Wellness Program provides important post-treatment care.
The money raised by the Canadiennes goes towards providing patients with personal trainers, dieticians and therapists, among other services at the Breast Clinic’s Wellness Centre.
“It’s pretty incredible that we can play hockey to support a cause,” said Maschmeyer. “We’re playing hockey for fun so to be able to use that as a platform is pretty incredible. I know we’re all excited to play in that game. And it’s already going to be great competition but having a face to the cause and it’s extra motivation to play hard out there.”
The Pink in the Rink game is part of double-header with the Laval Rocket, who will take on the Manitoba Moose at 3pm. Fans can either purchase a ticket for the Rocket’s game and gain free entrance to the Canadiennes game, or pay $15 for Pink in the Rink alone. Tickets are available here.