Created: February 07, 2020 11:22 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Saturday will be a milestone day for the Austin community as the Bruins celebrate their 10th annual Paint the Rink Pink game.
"There's something about this event that just galvanizes the whole community," TJ Chillot, the team's director of broadcasting and media relations said. "It was the event that started it all, Paint the Rink Pink kicked off Paint the Town Pink. So, it's a cause that everyone can get behind and the hockey game is almost secondary to what the money raised and all the good that comes from the game and comes from the community and we couldn't do it without the community."
Each year, this game attracts thousands of fans to Riverside Arena. Everyone coming together for a reason, to show their support for those who have been affected by cancer.
"It's an honor to be a part of that week with the Bruins and be able to play in front of this town and do it all for the same reasoning," Bruins' defenseman Jaden Shields said.
Veteran player, Connor Mylymok echoed the same sentiment about the fans coming out to support the team, "and knowing that we've been through some of the same problems that also brings an extra boost to our game."
While several of the players have experienced the highly energetic game, there are a few who will be playing their first PTRP game.
"I was actually in town last year, visiting when the pink game went on and I got to see the whole experience," Bruins' rookie Peter Jacobs said. "So, I didn't play in it last year but this year I'm so stoked. I'm really excited to get out there and play in front of all these people for a great cause."
The focal point of this week, and game, is to raise awareness and money for all cancer research at the Hormel Institute.
Cancer, a disease that infiltrates almost everyone's lives, and for Mylymok, this year is especially personal after his grandma passed away from Stage IV liver cancer at the end of last year.
"It'll be different than last year because she was still battling with it," Mylymok shared."This year, I'm definitely going to play with a lot more heart and I'm going to be thinking about her before the game, during the game, after the game and I'm just going to play my hardest for her because that's what she'd want."
And Mylymok is not the only player who has been personally impacted.
"I never met my grandma, my dad's mom," Shields expressed. "She passed away to breast cancer before I was born and my grandpa has cancer right now. You just fight for them every day and even more on this night."
Newcomer Jacobs shared that two of his great uncles and a close family friend were affected by the disease, while two are still battling.
Going on his third PTRP game, Jed Pietila's also reflected on what this game means and how it hits close for him as his grandma passed away a couple years ago.
"This game is a little more than hockey to me just like all these fans I know I'm not the only one affected by it. Just about everybody in the crowd on Saturday night is going to be affected by it."
While the players suit up and lace their skates, hockey will not be the only thing on their minds.
"What will go through my mind as soon as I step out on the ice, it's just play for my loved ones, everyone else's loved ones," Jacobs expressed.
The game will feature a post-game jersey auction, memorabilia, raffles, and more with all of the proceeds going to the Hormel Institute. Puck drops at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
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