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The rink at Tim's Toyota Center, home of the Arizona Sundogs, is shown covered in the names of cancer victims. (Arizona Sundogs Photo)

PHOENIX -- It could be an emotional Saturday evening for professional hockey fans in Prescott Valley.

The Arizona Sundogs have done something special for their "Pink In The Rink" game against the Rapid City Rush at Tim's Toyota Center.

The Sundogs, who are a minor league affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes, invited fans to pay tribute to cancer victims by painting the names of friends and loved ones affected by the disease on the ice Thursday. The rink was open for seven hours for people to paint.

Sundogs General Manager Chris Presson said the 200-foot-long rink is now covered from one end to the other with over 300 names of cancer victims and survivors.

"Some people just wrote the name of their friend or loved one in the ice with a little heart," said Presson. "Some people, 'We miss you.' Some people wrote the name of their loved one with 'Rest in Peace' and the date of their death. Many people wrote the name of their loved one or friend, and underneath it, they put ‘Survivor.'"

Presson said he painted the names of three cancer victims in his family. Several Sundog players added names on the ice. Presson said that it was a very emotional experience for many people.

The goal is to draw attention to the need for more research in the fight against cancer, including breast cancer.

The Sundogs have home games against Rapid City both Friday and Saturday night. The official "Pink in the Rink" game is Saturday night.

After the painting was completed Thursday, the rink was covered with another layer of ice so that the names will remain intact as the players skate over them during the games.

The event is part of a fundraiser for the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation and the American Cancer Society in hopes of finding a cure. Proceeds will come from the sale of pink game-used hockey sticks autographed by the Sundogs players. The team will also auction off specially designed jerseys after the game, which starts at 7:05 p.m.

For more information and tickets, go to the Arizona Sundogs' website.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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