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Rivulettes and suicide prevention council 'Team Up For Mental Health'

Jan. 26 game is being played in support of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council
The Cambridge Rivulettes are hosting their annual "Team Up for Mental Health" game on Friday, Jan. 26 against the Waterloo Ravens.

When the Cambridge Rivulettes host their regional rival the Waterloo Ravens on Jan. 26, the focus will be more on what's happening off the ice than on it.

The team is encouraging fans to turn out to Galt Arena Gardens for their annual “Team Up for Mental Health” game in support of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.

Since 2019, the Rivulettes have hosted the themed game in hopes of educating the community on mental health issues and eliminating the stigma that often comes along with them. They began to partner with the WRSPC in 2020.

Scheduling the game against Waterloo isn't done by accident, as incorporating the other team in the region can help amplify the messaging to a greater number of people.

"We started doing this night because as a team, we wanted talking about mental health to be more normalized and wanted to shine a light on the resources available for those struggling," Rivulettes assistant coach Kelly Potocky said.

"The partnership with the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council is important to us because of the work they do and resources they provide right here in our community to those struggling with mental health issues, as well as those coping with suicide loss."

When fans come through the entrance of the arena, cash donations will be collected and a QR code provided where people can make online donations.

A 50/50 and chuck-a-puck are planned with all proceeds going to the WRSPC. Staff from the organization will also be on hand with information and resources.

Sport often provides a platform to discuss more important issues and high level athletes aren't immune as mental health doesn't discriminate.

That's why Potocky and the rest of the coaching staff, which includes mental performance coach Dean Huyck, make the topic a common discussion among the players.

Huyck's role extends well beyond getting the best out of the team on the ice. He helps them deal with expectations, manage stress and other issues young people deal with on a daily basis.

"Our team promotes a family first attitude and we do our best to live it each day," Potocky said.

"We do our best to support each other and we aren't afraid to have tougher conversations within our group, as a whole or as individuals. Players join our team knowing that 'person over player' is our highest priority and we won't sacrifice that standard at any time."

Elisa Brewer-Singh, executive director of the WRSPC, sees the game as a valuable opportunity to spread its important message.

"Partnering with community organizations, such as the Cambridge Rivulettes, is important as it provides opportunities to create and build a strong sense of community and connectedness, while increasing awareness of suicide prevention," she said.

"Events like the annual Team Up for Mental Health night remind us that we can have conversations about our mental wellness and suicide prevention anywhere, including the arena, and we need to because we all have a role to play.”

When the final horn sounds, regardless of who wins or loses, Potocky hopes people walk away with a better understanding of mental health and the supports that are in the community.

"We want the community to know that we will continue to talk about mental health and prioritize it. We want them to know that Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council is doing amazing work with promoting hope, help and healing to ultimately reduce suicide and its impact," she said.

"There are resources available for those struggling and if we can use our sport and this game as a channel to connect someone with these resources, we are beyond happy to do so."

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.