The idea – simple and somewhat spontaneous – wasn’t imagined to take off like it did.
Marshfield boys head coach Dan Connolly and Hingham boys head coach Tony Messina wanted to do something special for their teams’ their annual New Year’s Eve matchup. Both programs have sought out community activism before, and the two coaching staffs – with about a month to go until facing off – brainstormed new ideas.
That’s when they received an email about Hockey Fights Cancer – an initiative partnered with the NHL that encourages local teams to fundraise money primarily for the American Cancer Society.
Messina gave his team a $100 per person goal. Connolly communicated a similar ambition to his players, and together, the teams aimed to raise $5,000. A week later, it was $10,000. The next week, it was $15,000.
By the time the two teams skated to a 1-1 tie in their custom Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys, Marshfield and Hingham combined to raise over $32,000.
“It was pretty amazing … it just shows the commitment of our players,” Connolly said. “The players really bought in from both teams – coaches and parents. They realize what a great cause it is. … Both programs and both communities are willing to step up when needed and they both did. Proud of our players, proud of their players.”
The number alone is inspiring. But for Brian Casalinova, the American Cancer Society’s senior development manager of youth programs, it was jaw-dropping.
In Massachusetts last year, there were 10 high school teams that organized HFC events.
Casalinova organizes a call with whoever takes charge, setting up the details typically three months in advance. For any youth, AAU, recreational, or high school team that takes on the challenge, the average amount raised nationally is around $1,600. An extremely successful total – over three months of fundraising – approaches $4,000.
“For the last 10 years, I’ve been working with all sports and no single, isolated game like this has raised that type of money,” Casalinova said. “They did that inside of three weeks. It was phenomenal, I’ve never seen anything like it. … I got to make sure I get them back again next year and the year after that, but it’s awesome to see the communities just rally behind (them).”
Money raised through HFC games supports patient services, such as the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. Boston has some of the best cancer centers in the country, so people come from all over to get treatment. Some families can’t afford lodging, and that’s where this fundraiser comes in handy.
For Hingham, rallying around cancer is an annual endeavor. Former player James Gordon’s battle with testicular cancer called for aid 10 years ago, while another former player Jack Gorgio’s fight with brain cancer started the Jack’s Drive 55 charity. That inspiration in town is what helped the Harbormen to account for over $21,000 of that grand sum – including star Aidan Brazel raising a state-best $2,578.
“It’s pretty amazing … we’re pretty proud of it,” Messina said. “Both teams had a bunch of different associations with cancer. Cancer affects everyone, so everyone’s got some kind of cause – a person they know. We’ve had a few over the years. … It touches everyone’s life and it’s easy to rally around.”
Donations can still be made as the HFC season is still very young. You can find a local team to support at https://secure.acsevents.org/site/STR?pg=teamlist&fr_id=103389.
Hip – Senior Emma Holmes dialed up three points for the Winthrop girls in a 9-0 win over Medford/Malden on Wednesday to crack 100 career points.
Hip – Senior Cam Fici scored two goals and dished an assist Wednesday night, leading the Belmont boys to a signature win over highly-ranked BC High.
Hooray – Sophomore Penny Saich registered her third hat trick of the year Wednesday, pacing the surging Norwell girls’ team to a 5-3 win over Hingham for its most signature win so far.
This Friday (Jan. 13) will be a good day to hit refresh on the MIAA website’s Tournament Central page, as the MIAA announced the first set of power rankings will be posted.
The Stoneham/Wilmington girls’ team got a boost between the pipes from an unexpected player over the holiday break. With top goalie Maddie Sainato out, the team turned to Gabby Daniels – who had zero prior experience in the crease – to lock the net down in its Dec. 27 game against Quincy/North Quincy. She allowed just two goals in a 6-2 win.
Since being upset by Franklin in the opening round of the Div. 1 state tournament last year, the Wellesley boys’ team hadn’t lost a game entering Saturday’s matchup with Braintree. Paul Donato’s crew posted four shutouts in a 7-0 start, outscoring teams 31-4 in the process.
The addition of transfer star scorer Maggie Lynch is paying off just about as well one could expect for an Archbishop Williams team that already brought back a lot from its trip to the Div. 2 state quarterfinals. Two convincing wins over fellow contender Sandwich and another over Bishop Feehan has the Archies buzzing early.
What a time to be a Spartan. St. Mary’s (L) is the only school with both teams still unbeaten in the state as just 19 teams remain undefeated entering the weekend.