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Champions crowned at 21st annual Stick It to Cancer hockey tournament

04/16/2019, 2:45pm CDT
By Barclay Kruse, NSC Chief Communications Officer

Annual tournament at the Schwan Super Rink raises funds to benefit breast cancer research

Blaine, Minn. (April 16, 2019) – Many of the players at the Stick-it to Cancer hockey tournament at the Schwan Super Rink, April 12-14, remembered last year’s tournament and the epic weather it dished out. Over 20-inches of snow fell during the tournament weekend forcing cancellation of some games.

This year, with much relief, the big April snowstorm came two days ahead of the tournament, allowing time for the roads to be cleared in plenty of time for the puck drop. In the end, the 45 teams playing in the 21st annual cancer benefit tournament had clear roads and clear rinks to skate on. And a cause to believe in.

“At most tournaments the goal is to win a championship,” said tournament director Kathy Brodzinski. “And that’s important at Stick-it to Cancer for sure. But our teams never lose sight of the greater purpose -- the mission of fighting breast cancer. I think that makes winning a championship even more meaningful.”

Over the two decades the tournament has been held, a total of $870,732 has been donated to breast cancer research. For most of those years, the beneficiary has been the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and this year’s donation will go to the same organization. Last year’s donation total was $61,009. Donations are still coming in, so a final donation total for 2019 won’t be announced until later in the spring.

“It’s rewarding to see people come together for a cause,” said Brodzinski. “They’re still playing a competitive sport, but the most important aspect isn’t winning the game, it’s helping people raise money, and also to honor people affected by cancer, both those we have lost and those who are survivors.”

The group photo is a tradition at the Opening Ceremony.

That spirit was most evident at the opening ceremony, where a parade of teams honored those affected by cancer. Special guests gave stirring messages. Dr. Heather Beckwith, an oncologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Masonic Cancer Center, spoke of the real-life positive advancements in cancer treatment that have come from research in her lab. Minnesota Wild player Wes Walz, who has lost his mother-in-law to cancer, lauded all those playing female hockey. And Kathy Brodzinski thanked all for their commitment to the mission of the tournament.

After the conclusion of the ceremony, professional and college players took the ice for the annual celebrity game. Featured were eleven members of the National Women’s Hockey League champion Minnesota Whitecaps.

Whitecaps forward Allie Thunstrom summed up the reason the players came out to participate.

“It’s a scary thought that next year, this year, ten years from now I could be one of that one in eight (who are afflicted by breast cancer),” Thunstrom said. “To be able to help provide the extra funding to make this horrible disease go away; whatever we can do to help, we’re going to do.”

In addition to funds raised by the teams, referees, announcers and scorekeepers all volunteered their time, which will increase the final donation.

“It’s amazing that you have referees who get $50, $60 a game, and they donate that to the cause,” said Brodzinski. “It’s really touching. A lot of people want to do it for the cause, whether it’s for their wives or mothers, or daughters one day.”

There is still time to make a contribution. Click here to make an online donation or donate by texting STICKIT to 71777.

Here is a photo gallery of the tournament champions. Each of the competition divisions is named after a family member or friend of players who have passed away from cancer, or successfully battled the disease. All the honorees were nominated by participants in the tournament.

Tag(s): NSC Blog