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For the Colorado Eagles, It’s Bigger Than the Game

#AHL | The @ColoradoEagles spent Saturday night honoring cancer victims and survivors, while playing a spirited contest against the @GoIceHogs. In her first story with FPH, @FPHEagles fills you in on the night!

Photo Courtesy: Colorado Eagles

For the Colorado Eagles, It’s Bigger Than the Game

LOVELAND, Co. – In their first two home games of the new year, the Colorado Eagles honored cancer victims and survivors during their Hockey Fights Cancer weekend. Though the official game to honor those cancer warriors was on Saturday, the Eagles organization made sure to make it a fun and exciting experience for fans throughout the weekend.

Lavender was the Theme of the Weekend

From the jerseys to merchandise to the lights around the building, the Budweiser Events Center was surrounded and filled with lavender for the entire weekend. The Eagles ran an auction for players’ game-worn Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys, allowing fans to bid and win the jerseys. The highest bid was for forward Ryan Wagner‘s jersey, which went for $2,300. The lavender jerseys held some of the Eagles’ signature blue as well as their 20th anniversary logo on the front. Fans were also able to buy their own takes on the purple jerseys. Donning these, as well as jerseys from past years, the crowd was filled with lavender.

The Eagles also partnered with a local coffee chain, The Human Bean, to raise money for local cancer patients. Proceeds from the auction, The Human Bean’s sales of the lattes, and a portion of the merchandise sales from the Saturday game will be donated to the UC Health Northern Colorado Oncology Patient Assistance Fund.

Fans also had an opportunity to partake in the in-arena lavender light-up that took place during the second period of the game on Saturday. Upon arriving at their seats, fans found cards in the cupholders in front of them containing a purple film that they could place over the flashlights on their phones. The only lights provided by the arena were the moving spotlights and the catwalk lights shining down to illuminate the ice.

Cancer Warriors Who Made a Statement

To kick off the weekend, the Colorado Eagles organization invited patients from UC Health Oncology to sit in on practice on Thursday. Some of these warriors and survivors were featured on players’ helmets during Saturday’s game.

Before the starting lineup was announced, the Eagles’ PA announcer helped introduce five cancer warriors to stand with the starting lineup for the game. Following the announcement, the organization invited healthcare workers from UC Health to be part of presenting the colors during the National Anthem. The anthem was performed by a cancer survivor, leading us into the long-awaited Saturday puck drop.

Once the game concluded, prior to announcing the Three Stars of the Game, they announced the Three Warriors of the Game. They got even more attention, though, as all of the warriors and survivors in the building and community ended up earning themselves 1st Star of the Game.

Hockey Fights Cancer Night at the BEC

Forward Sampo Ranta did not play on Saturday due to a recall to the Colorado Avalanche for their game against the Ottawa Senators. The Avalanche shut out the Senators and managed to score a whopping seven goals in the process.

Charles Hudon started off scoring early for the Eagles, putting himself in a position to receive a stray puck for a breakaway and backhanding it behind Rockford netminder Mitchell Weeks.

Aside from a few chirps and scrums in front of each team’s respective nets, most of the first remained relatively bland – that is until the last five minutes of the period, when the first penalty of the game was handed to Callahan Burke for high-sticking. Not even a minute into the power play, Icehogs forward Dylan Sikura evens the game.

Aside from technical difficulties delaying the start of the second period and a few penalties throughout, the most exciting parts of the middle period came from each of the creases, one occupied by Mitchell Weeks and the other by Eagles’ goaltender Justus Annunen, who has been holding the fort down in the crease for the team for a good portion of the season as Jonas Johansson had just returned from a recall to the Colorado Avalanche. Both Weeks and Annunen stopped all of the shots they faced during the period, but only one of them would continue to stop shots through the rest of regulation.

Weeks finally let one slip through on an Eagles power play, where Oskar Olausson redirected a shot from teammate Mitchell Vande Sompel over halfway thru the third. With 48 seconds remaining, the Eagles would receive one final power play opportunity. Rockford decides to pull their goalie, allowing for 5-on-5 play for the rest of the game. During this time, at 45 seconds remaining, defenseman Josh Jacobs would seal the deal with an empty net goal, giving the Eagles a 3-1 win over the Icehogs.

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