SPOTLIGHT: MOVEMBER

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

Brendan Bell’s wife might not be enamored with his latest bit of facial hair, but he’s the early leader for best moustache on the Connecticut Whale during the always worthwhile Movember cause.

During Movember – the month formerly known as November – people worldwide sprout moustaches to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues, particularly prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. It started in Australia in 2003 and then spread to South Africa and Europe, reaching American shores five years ago. In 2010 alone, more than 64,500 Mo brothers and sisters got on board in the United States, raising $7.5 million.

Bell, the veteran defenseman in his first season with the Whale after he signed a free-agent deal with the New York Rangers on Aug. 8, is participating in the fundraiser for the third straight year. While wife Monika doesn’t like the scraggly nature of her husband’s face, his Fu Manchu is drawing raves from all sides, and that was even before he scored his first two goals with the Whale. The first was a breakaway off a brilliant lead pass from Mats Zuccarello with 6.9 seconds left in overtime that beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3-2 on Friday night, and the second started the Whale back from a two-goal, third-period deficit to a 3-2 shootout victory over Providence on Sunday.

“Must not be any Italian guys on the team,” a smiling Bell said of the Fu Manchu look. “If you can’t laugh at yourself, I don’t know what you can do. But I know I’ve been doing it for at least three years because my wife hates it. She actually left for five or six days to visit her parents in Tampa, Fla., and then went home to Ottawa, partially because we were on the road (in St. John’s, Newfoundland) and then had a busy schedule at home but partially just because she doesn’t want to be a part of the moustache. She laughs at everything, but there’s no extra kisses going around at my place.”

Bell said he has participated in the program to raise awareness and be part of “a fun thing for the team.”

“It’s something to joke around about, but it does raise awareness for a pretty serious issue,” Bell said. “I began having my prostate looked at at 20 because I had a prostate and urinary issue that I didn’t want to have to look after later on in life. And my grandfather died young of some intestinal issue that they never really sorted out. It’s just something that I’m kind of aware of because I want to be aware of it. It’s an important issue that we just kind of brush under the rug because it’s something that you don’t really want to think about.”

Whale veteran center Kris Newbury is also in his third go-round with a moustache, though he also isn’t earning kudos at home.

“It’s a great charity, absolutely, but I don’t look good with it,” Newbury said with a smile. “It raises awareness, so I sacrifice for a month to look a little bit silly for a good cause.”

And what do Newbury’s three kids about it?

“They don’t like it,” he said, smiling again. “They don’t like kissing dad anymore.”

Most of the Whale players are participating for the cause. Once registered at www.movember.com, participants start Movember clean shaven. For the rest of the month, the men known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into fine moustachery. Women who support the Mo Bros are Mo Sistas, and they raise funds by seeking sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.

Mo Bros are virtually walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November, and through their actions and words, they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health. At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their efforts by throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Partés held around the world by Movember, for Movember.

The funds raised in the United States support treatment and prevention of cancers that affect men and are directed to programs run directly by Movember and its men’s health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Together, the three channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programs in line with strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.

Since its humble beginnings in Melbourne Australia, Movember has grown to become a global movement, inspiring more than 1.1 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate with formal campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Finland, Spain, South Africa, Ireland and the Netherlands. In addition, Movember is aware of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas supporting the campaign and men’s health cause across the globe.

No matter the country or city, Movember will continue to work to change established habits and attitudes men have about their health, to educate men about the health risks they face and to act on that knowledge, thereby increasing the chances of early detection, diagnosis and effective treatment.

Those interested in participating can donate to an individual, a team or to the Movember cause itself. Funds raised benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation, LIVESTRONG and the Movember Foundation. If you want to register, donate or get involved, Google Movember or call 310-450-3399. If you’ve got a few spare bucks in these difficult economic times, make a donation. It could help you or someone you love.

WHALE’S ANNUAL BOWL-A-THON IS SUNDAY

After hosting the Portland Pirates on Wednesday night and visiting Bridgeport and Springfield on Friday and Saturday nights, the Whale’s charity work will continue Sunday when they hold their annual Bowl-a-Thon to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut at the AMF Silver Lanes, 241 Silver Lane in East Hartford.

There will be shifts from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m., with a team of four paired with one Whale player for a minimum donation of $200 for two games. There also will be chances to win prizes, including hockey memorabilia, restaurant gift cards, apparel and more.

To register, call 877-660-6667, visit www.soctbowlathon.com or enter at the door.

WINTER CLASSIC PREP UNDERWAY

Construction of the rink for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia that will feature the Rangers and Flyers on Jan. 2 began Monday morning. Approximately 61,000 square feet of decking will be installed by a crew from Toronto-based BaAM Productions, headed by project manager Chris Dowling. “This product is designed for military purposes,” Dowling told NHL.com. “It locks together with a cam fitting so it’s locked in horizontally and vertically, in both planes. So when the equipment drives over it, it has a rating of about 150,000 pounds per square foot. So it’s used for much heavier-duty purposes than what we’re using it for – for tanks, for cranes, for the whole deal. We use it for fork lifts, Zambonis, other equipment. It’s also used for pedestrian access. It’s easier to walk on than it is to walk on the field.” When completed, the decking will ring the ballpark’s warning track, come out under the temporary seating and broadcast positions that will be erected in center field and be the path the players walk from the dugouts to the rink. The only area that won’t be covered is where the actual rink will go. Dowling said at the request of the Phillies, a heavier-duty decking material will be installed to accommodate the Zamboni. That means there will be about 10,000 square feet of the heavier-duty decking, combined with about 51,000 square feet of the other type of decking. The Flyers also unveiled their jerseys for the event. They are available at shop.nhl.com, as well as the Wells Fargo Center. They will also be available on Tuesday at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store in New York City.

WHALE FANS LOOK TO EVEN SERIES

Whale fans will look to get even in their seven-game series with Springfield Falcons fans in Game 2 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield on Dec. 3. Falcons fans notched a 10-6 victory on Oct. 23 at the XL Center in the inaugural game of the historic series originated by Seth Dussault of Easthampton, Mass. Matt Marychuk of Glastonbury created a Facebook page to see if there were any interested players, and he and Dussault managed the social media page as interest grew. They used the page to sign up fans to play and communicate between the players and managed to fill rosters for each fan team. The idea caught the attention of the Falcons and then Whale front office, leading to players of all ages and skill levels participating in the series.

For tickets to Game 2 at 4:30 p.m., email Damon Markiewicz at dmarkiewicz@falconsahl.com. For tickets to Game 3 at the XL Center on Dec. 4 at noon, contact Dussault at whalefalconsfangame@gmail.com. Information on all the games and the series is available at www.facebook.com/WhaleFalconsFanGame.

Tickets must be purchased at least 10 days before a game. A portion of ticket sales benefits Defending the Blue Line, an organization that helps children of military families play hockey. Game 1 raised $200, and ticket sales for Games 2 and 3 have already added $175. Other games are Jan. 7 in Hartford at 4 p.m., Jan. 8 in Springfield at 12:30 p.m., Feb. 10 in Springfield at 5 p.m. and March 17 in Hartford at 4 p.m. Tickets for those games will be available in the near future.

And mark Jan. 22, 2012 on your calendar. That’s when the Whale’s annual Tip-A-Player Dinner will be held from 4-7 p.m. at the XL Center. More information will be coming soon.

BRACELETS TO BENEFIT LOKMOTIV FAMILIES

Whale wives and girlfriends will be selling bracelets to benefit the families of those lost in the tragic plane crash on Sept. 7 involving the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. “Love for Lokomotiv” bracelets will be available for purchase at Whale home games on Dec. 9 against Hershey and Dec. 10 against Providence.

In a united effort to show support for the grieving families for those lost in the Lokomotiv tragedy, hockey wives and girlfriends around the world are raising money for their dear friends. Show your support on Dec. 9 and 10 with the comfortable red silicone bracelet, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the foundation set up in honor of the lost team.

You can learn more about “Love for Lokomotiv” and find out how you can help at www.loveforlokomotiv.com.

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