Blue among the pink

Cancer survivors honored at Pink the Rink; Devils lose

Photo courtesy of the State University of New York at Fredonia Fredonia’s Sam Wilbur (11) advances the puck while pursued by Oswego’s Tyson Bruce during college hockey action Saturday at Steele Hall. The game was Fredonia’s annual “Pink the Rink” game honoring cancer survivors and raising money for cancer research.

Sometimes, a sporting event is about more than just a final result. Saturday could not have been a more perfect example of that.

The Fredonia Blue Devils college hockey team lost to the Oswego State Lakers, 5-0, on Saturday in the 11th annual “Pink The Rink” event at Steele Hall.

Oswego State came in as the fourth ranked team in the nation in the standings, and early on, Fredonia (9-9-3, 5-7) met the Lakers with high energy in a solid start, only allowing a deflection goal past goalie Anton Rosen with 5:38 remaining in the first period by Oswego’s Cam Berry. That goal proved to be the only goal allowed in the first period.

“They’re number four in the nation for a reason,” said Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith.

When asked why Fredonia scheduled a team as talented as Oswego State (16-3-2, 11-0-1) for the annual event, Meredith had a simple response.

“Why not take a shot?”

After the first period, the next three goals were all scored on the power play for Oswego State. The final goal was an empty net tally with under a minute to go in the game.

“Against a team as good as them, you can’t get away with anything,” said Meredith.

Although the final on the scoreboard did not have the result Blue Devils fans were hoping for, the result of the entire evening was a different story.

Former athletic director Doc Phillips, who was at the helm of the Blue Devils athletics at the inception of the event, credits Meredith with the whole event.

“It was all Jeff (Meredith),” said Phillips. “He did so much … and look at it now. Look at all of the people… There’s people here that have never seen a hockey game in their life, but they came tonight. They came for this.”

Phillips went on to describe how the event has grown over the years. What used to be an event where people were asked to wear pink in the stands has become one of the biggest sporting events in the area every year. In 11 years, the event has raised well over $80,000 and has touched countless lives.

Meredith first had the idea of wearing pink jerseys on the ice, and after that, he refined the idea to add an even more personal touch, by allowing people to bid on the right to have the name.

“It just added a more personal element to it,” said Meredith. “When we did pink jerseys and socks, it just exploded… We were the first U.S. college to do pink jerseys and socks.”

Though he has not experienced the loss of a close family member to breast cancer himself, the event has become deeply personal to Meredith because of how many people he has been in touch with each and every year the event has taken place.

“It lets me know how fortunate I am,” said Meredith. “I haven’t lost someone to it, but this lets me know how many people have.

Meredith stated that the event has become even more personal because of the biographies printed in the program of the people who purchase the jerseys.

“All of those biographies in the program are all emails to me first,” said Meredith. “There’s times you’ll read a biography and you’ll have tears in your eyes, because somebody is really up against it. It makes you realize how fortunate you are and how much love there is for all of these people. We’re lucky.”

The Blue Devils head to the road this coming weekend for the final time, before hosting Senior Night in two weeks. That will be the time to focus on the result, the stats, and the postseason push.

Saturday was a night for something more.

Twitter: @bradencarmen

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