The Gillette Wild will host their annual Pink in the Rink charity weekend Friday and Saturday when they play the Butte Cobras at Spirit Hall Ice Arena.
The event aims to raise money for Bell Nob Swing for the Cure, a program that helps women in Northeast Wyoming pay for mammograms and helps with the costs of diagnosing and treating cancer.
“It’s part of our team trying to give back to the community,” Wild coach Steve Kruk said. “The game is so minuscule in the grand scheme of life. But if (we) can just provide entertainment, do the absolute best that (we) can, and all the meanwhile you’re raising money for charity. For us, it’s a no-brainer.”
Wild players will wear specially made pink jerseys for both games, and each jersey will be auctioned off with all profits going to Bell Nob Swing for the Cure.
After Saturday’s series finale, the Wild will have a “skate with the players” event for youth and anybody else who wants to get on the ice with Gillette’s North American 3 Hockey League team.
Many players on the team have been affected in some way by cancer.
Goaltender Anthony Seykora’s grandfather died about a year ago from bone cancer, he said.
“Everyone’s got a story,” said Seykora, who is 4-0 in the crease this season. “It brings everyone together and helps you emotionally support the others. That’s one good thing I like about junior hockey, is that they support special causes.”
Seykora’s teammate Declan Young, the leading scorer on the team, lost his grandmother years ago to cancer, Young said.
He said the weekend dedicated to fighting cancer gives him more motivation.
“I’m going to try really hard and play these games for her,” Young said.
The Wild have an 8-1 record and haven’t lost a game in over a month. They will play the Butte Cobras this weekend, a team the Wild beat by a combined score of 15-4 in two games in early October.
Gillette had a 2-7 record through the first nine games last season.
“The biggest takeaway that I’ve seen with this group is just the inclusiveness and the cohesion,” Kruk said. “When you’re a group that is more closely intertwined and you really embrace that family mentality, I think that translates to the ice.”