From the National Hockey League to major juniors, hockey’s sights and scenes tend to remain consistent. Fans cheer and boo, players compete in spirited battle, and coaches bark strategic commands.
The clock hits triple zeros, the final horn sounds, players vacate the ice, and it’s soon onto the next one. But then, what comes next? Or perhaps more specifically, how do we measure the success of our previous three hours?
The scoreboard indicates a winner. The concession workers tally their sales. Total revenue generated from the night either pleases or dismays a sitting team president. Meanwhile players evaluate their most recent performance. A glance at the box score occurs while reflecting on recent efforts.
But for Greenville Swamp Rabbits forward Matt Bradley, scoring a goal simply carries more weight than helping his team win. In fact, scoring goals has coincided to over $10,000 raised in cancer research. Beginning with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, through three professional seasons, Bradley has made annual contributions to cancer research based on hitting twine. To little surprise, the gesture was infectious to his teammates. “I ended up getting some people to pledge along with me, and from that small beginning four years ago across three teams from junior to pro, I have raised more than $10,000 and counting,” said Bradley. Management in previous stops during Bradley’s journey have also matched his contributions to double an annual donation total.
“The buy-in and support from teammates, family, friends, management, owners and fans of teams I have played for has been more then I could have asked for. It’s pretty cool seeing and being a part of this journey - using a sport to do something good for the people fighting the fight with cancer.”
The multiple meanings of October. For the average hockey player, October signifies a new chapter, a new season, or a fresh slate. A new 72-game season to tackle, a new set of goals, and for some, new threads and a new logo to represent. Beyond the game, October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During his junior hockey career, while preparing for a new season, Bradley received unfortunate news.
“A loved one very close to me was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. It was my girlfriend’s mom D’arcy Ashley.” Subsequently, fundraising became personal. “I was motivated to do more.”
Now in his third professional season, Bradley’s mission continues while his inspiration is in remission. “Each season, October games have meant that much more. Every goal I score in October is all the more special.”
The beneficiaries of Bradley’s scoring touch have been dependent on previous career stops. Charitable contributions have been made towards BC Cancer in British Columbia and the Canadian Cancer Society in Newfoundland and Labrador. And for Bradley, he is far from finished.
“At the end of the day, there really is no end goal. There’s no magic number in mind I want to hit. I just want to contribute in any way possible and raise money towards a cause near and dear to not only my heart, but so many others.”
As April concludes, it’s a 2020-21 regular season now 50 games old for Bradley. A total of 12 pucks have hit the back of the net against his ECHL counterparts. And success has not only been measured, but success has been met in a way greater than numbers printed within a box score.