Face Off Against Breast Cancer raised hopes, money

MIDDLEBURY — Organizers of the annual Face Off Against Breast Cancer were happy both with the results of their hockey tournament on the Memorial Sports Center ice on Jan. 24 and 25 and in the event’s success in achieving its larger fundraising goal.
Eleven women’s hockey teams in all competed on that Saturday and Sunday, three “competitive level” and two “novice level” groups on the first day, and a half-dozen “recreational level” squads on Sunday,
In addition, the tournament also allowed for three “friends and family” games throughout the weekend, which let men and kids join in the effort.
In the end, the host Middlebury Otters became the undefeated champions of the recreational division, while Team Warrior from the Woodstock area earned top honors in the competitive division. Organizers said the novice division wasn’t formatted to produce a champion, but both teams enjoyed the competition and camaraderie.
More importantly, organizers said thanks to business sponsors the costs of running the tournament were fully covered this year, thus allowing them to focus on raising much-needed funds for breast cancer patients and their families via the Cancer Patient Support (CPS) program.
They said hundreds of local sponsors and contributors made an impact on the Face Off Against Breast Cancer.  The full list is available at http://faceoffagainstbreastcancer.org/ways-participate/sponsors/2015-tou…. The event’s major sponsors were Woodchuck Hard Cider, the Addison Independent, Free Press Media, Two Brothers Tavern, and The Horse Traders.
Officials from the CPS program —  including CPS board president Bobbe Maynes and Vice President Curtiss Hemm and staff members Kathy McBeth and Jennifer James — spoke on both days to assembled players, coaches and fans.
They reminded participants and spectators that the Face Off Against Breast Cancer is the single largest outside fundraising event for CPS. Over the course of the tourney’s 16 year history it has raised more than $500,000 dollars. The majority of the money raised goes toward its Emergency Fund, giving direct financial support to breast cancer patients in Vermont. A smaller portion goes toward supporting patient services.
Individual and team fundraising also proved to be successful during the Face Off weekend. Saturday’s teams brought in more than $22,000 in donations, while Sunday’s teams contributed more than $35,000. The Middlebury Otters became the single top fundraising team by chipping in $11,000. Queen City Brewery’s team came in first for fundraising in the competitive division, and Middlebury Mystix led the novice division.
The top individual fundraiser, bringing more than $4,500, was Manchester Rusty Blades’ Cathy Aragi, a breast cancer survivor herself. Liza Sacheli of the Otters raised more than $3,100, while Lisa Meyer of the Waterbury Wicked brought in more than $1,700.
Organizers said donations are still coming in, and they are hoping to meet last year’s fundraising mark of $75,000.   
Other members of the local hockey community have also chipped into recent fundraising for the cause. On Jan. 16 and 17, the Middlebury College women’s hockey team and the Friends of Panther Hockey hosted a “Pink the Rink” event at the Panthers’ games, netting more than $3,400.
The Middlebury Union High School hockey programs also hosted a jamboree on Jan. 23, the night before the Face Off Against Breast Cancer, with Pink the Rink games for both the boys and girls’ teams, plus a 50/50 raffle. The high school students then volunteered throughout the weekend to help run the Face Off tournament. Face Off organizers said they appreciated the support of the local hockey community and the dozens of volunteers who contributed throughout the weekend.
PLAYERS ON THE Middlebury Otters team attentively watch the ice as their teammates battle for the championships during the 2015 Face Off Against Breast Cancer annual tournament. The Otters were undefeated champions at the end of the weekend tournament. 

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