KENNEWICK — Last year, 192,370 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Of those women, more than 40,000 died.
The Tri-City Americans are doing their part tonight to help women in the Tri-Cities, holding their fifth annual Breast Cancer Awareness game against the Chilliwack Bruins.
"It goes without saying, I think this is a special night," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "It humbles everyone in the rink -- on both sides. I think everyone has been affected one way or another. Everyone gets to step back and realize how fortunate they are."
Tonight, the ice will be pink, the Tri-City players will wear commemorative pink jerseys and there will be pink T-shirt sales, silent auctions and donation jars at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center booths around the arena. The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game. All proceeds will benefit the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation.
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The money raised will be used for a variety of support services and programs. Last year, the event raised a record $20,060 and has raised more than $52,000 in four years. At close of business Thursday, there were less than 700 tickets available for tonight's game.
The ceremonial puck drop will be made by cancer survivor Lisa Moreno and her family.
Tri-City (39-14-0-2, 80 points) comes into the game tied atop the WHL standings with Brandon and Saskatoon, and has three games in hand on the Wheat Kings. In the U.S. Division, the Americans lead second-place Everett and Portland by seven points.
Chilliwack (24-26-1-5, 54 points) is eighth in the Western Conference standings, four points behind seventh place Kamloops and six behind Kelowna. The Bruins have been on a slide lately, losing six of 10 and three of their last five games.
"This time of year, every team is dangerous," Hiller said. "They haven't played since Saturday and they will be fresh. It should be an entertaining game."
While the Bruins have had a week off, the Americans are in the middle of a busy schedule. Tonight is their third game in four days. Saturday they will play at Spokane, and will host Kamloops on Sunday.
Tri-City is coming off a 5-3 loss at Portland on Wednesday -- a game where goaltending was suspect and scoring was again coming from the line of Justin Feser, Neal Prokop and Patrick Holland.
"We had a handful of guys who played really well and others who didn't," Hiller said. "It wasn't enough to get us through. Both of our goaltenders (Drew Owsley and Alex Pechurskiy) have both been so good for us. If one is off, the other is hot, but we didn't get that (Wednesday) night."
The area that Hiller has some concern with is his top line of Brendan Shinnimin, Adam Hughesman and Johnny Lazo. The trio has combine for just three goals and seven assists in the last seven games. Shinnimin has dropped from the top 10 scoring list down to 14th.
"I don't think there is any way to sugarcoat it, they are in a rut," Hiller said. "They haven't had a game in awhile where all three have been on on the same night. We have been giving them that rope -- sooner or later we may gave to give them fresh linemates or something."
NOTES: Fans wishing to get a glimpse of the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies, televisions on the concourse will carry the festivities. ... The first 3,500 fans will receive free pink glow bracelets, and the first 2,000 fans will receive a set of 2009-10 Americans trading cards.