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Ready for pink

The event that kick started all the pink madness in Austin is returning this weekend.

It’s Paint the Rink Pink — the Austin Bruins hockey game that will feature pink ice, pink jerseys, fans decked out in pink and plenty of ways to raise money for breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute.

Though the original goal set by The Institute and Austin Bruins before the February 2011 game was to raise $5,000, the first event raised more than $22,000. For that reason, expectations are high for this Saturday night’s game when the puck drops at 7:05 p.m. at Riverside Arena.

“We’d really hope for it to be as successful as it was last year,” said Stephanie Bowe, Bruins account executive.

The event that made Paint the Rink Pink such a success last year — a live auction of every player’s jersey — will return at the end of Saturday’s game. This year, the jerseys have even more flair, including more pink, a bear paw tearing through the jersey and the breast cancer ribbon on the back. Bowe added that this year’s auction features a custom painted, game-worn goalie helmet.

A raffle will feature more items, as well. The Bruins are hosting a happy hour at Torge’s Live from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday night, where visitors can buy raffle tickets for $5 a piece or five for $20. Tickets also will be available at the game, and top prizes include Bruiser the Bear’s jersey autographed by the entire team, a $100 gift card to The Old Mill coupled with a night’s stay at the Holiday Inn, and a golf outing at the Austin Country Club.

But the night isn’t just about raising money: It’s about touching lives. Like last year, there will be a ceremonial opening with Bruins players and their family members who have survived breast cancer, and speeches during intermission.

Bowe mentioned the community businesses and the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau have been huge supporters of the event and are part of the reason why the event has grown so big.

“It started as a small vision between the Austin Bruins and The Hormel Institute, and it has progressed into a community-wide, week-long celebration,” Bowe said.

Tickets to Saturday’s game can be purchased in advance at either Riverside Arena or Hy-Vee. Reserved seating is $12; adults are $10 general admission and students, kids and seniors are $7. Look for updates on the Bruins’ Facebook page for sold-out seating.