Women’s hockey to help ‘Black Out Heart Disease’ this weekend

Lady Tigers, Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and Geneva General Cardiology Associates team up in fundraiser to fight heart disease

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The RIT women’s hockey team and Zeta Tau Alpha sorority will raise money and awareness in the fight against heart disease during a weekend series against rival SUNY Plattsburgh.

The No. 1 ranked RIT women’s hockey team and Zeta Tau Alpha sorority are teaming up with Geneva General Cardiology Associates to help “Black Out Heart Disease” on Friday and Saturday, in conjunction with the RIT-vs.-Plattsburgh games at Ritter Arena.

Special-edition black jerseys—worn by RIT players in the weekend contests—will be sold at auction to raise money in the fight against heart disease and to increase public awareness. Also, replica black T-shirts will be sold for $10. Admission to both games—7:05 p.m. Friday and 3:05 p.m. Saturday—is free.

The jerseys are being auctioned online at www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/fingerlakeshealth/bidding.php, with bidding to close at 6 p.m. Saturday. The T-shirts will be on sale 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Jan. 19-21 at RIT’s Student Alumni Union. All proceeds from the auction and T-shirt sale benefit “Black Out Heart Disease.”

“Any time you can team up with a great organization like Finger Lakes Health and bring awareness to heart disease and the impact it has on so many families, it is a good thing,” says RIT Head Coach Scott McDonald. “This is a win-win situation for Finger Lakes Health, RIT and our community. This is going to be a huge event between two talented teams, while raising awareness for a very important cause.”

RIT President Bill Destler and Dr. Joe Gomez, a cardiologist at Geneva General Hospital, will drop the ceremonial first puck before Friday’s game. Both games will also feature raffles and special giveaways, including black-and-orange rally towels. Following Saturday’s contest, the Tigers will hold an autograph session in Ritz Sports Zone, where fans can receive a 2010–2011 team photo signed by members of the squad.

RIT and ECAC West rival, No. 4 Plattsburgh have developed one of the best rivalries in Division III women’s hockey since the Tigers moved to the conference in 2007. The Tigers are off to their best start in program history, with a 17-0-0 record, including a 10-0-0 mark in ECAC West play—while outscoring opponents, 110-14. They have been the top-ranked program in the nation for six straight weeks.

Sixteen different Tigers are scoring in double figures, with eight averaging at least a point per game. Since the start of the 2006–2007 season, RIT has amassed a 98-19-7 record.

Plattsburgh has won at least 21 games and made the NCAA Tournament seven straight seasons, winning national championships in 2007 and 2008. Plattsburgh is 12-2-1 and 8-1-0 in ECAC West play this year.

Money raised from this weekend’s contests will help fund free hypertrophic cardiomyopathy screenings by the Geneva Cardiology Associates team. The next free screenings will be March 5 at Geneva Community Center. For more information, call 315-787-4636 or visit www.flhealth.org.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle in which a portion of the left ventricle, the heart’s major pumping chamber, is thickened for no particular cause. The genetic disorder is common and passed on from family members. It is the leading cause of sudden, unexpected cardiac death in young athletes.

“In addition to hosting the March 5 screening, our health system is committed to continuing to educate the community including parents, teachers, coaches and young people about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, signs and symptoms to watch for, and cardiovascular health in general,” says Lara Turbide, vice president for community services for Finger Lakes Health. “We are thrilled to partner with RIT to raise awareness of this disease, which impacts young athletes, and are honored that the No. 1 ranked RIT women’s hockey team, world-class athletes, are playing a pivotal role as ambassadors for such an important cause.”

Fans can also donate directly to Finger Lakes Health here.

Both games will be aired live on Time Warner Cable Sports channel 26 or 1026 (in high definition). Gene Battaglia and Chris Lerch will call the action.