Play hockey, give blood

With the North American Hockey League 2013-14 season about to start, fans of the Minot Minotauros have been given an incentive to donate their vital fluids as the team partners up with United Blood Services for an extended blood drive.

At a Monday-night meet and greet event at the Maysa Arena, phlebotomists working in the collection bus relieved the Tauros’ players and fans alike of their blood, with the first 100 getting limited edition T-shirts for their trouble. The “play hockey, give blood” campaign will continue throughout the week at the UBS center at 1919 North Broadway.

“It’s actually the kick off of our partnership with United Blood Services,” said the team’s director of sales and marketing, Ken Oda. The Tauros have donated 700 home tickets to the center to distribute to donors over the course of the season. Oda explained that pans out to about 20 donated tickets per game. Ordinarily, tickets cost $12 apiece.

“We are going to handle it as a first come, first serve basis,” every week that a home game is held, explained the center manager for United Blood Services, Jennifer Charbonneaux. “We’re looking forward to working with them,” she added. “This is kind of a unique partnership,” inasmuch as the drive will be ongoing throughout the season.

“It’s important to connect that donor base with the community,” said donor recruitment representative Travis Dressler. He explained that UBS collects blood across the state and northern South Dakota, with hospitals keeping the nonprofit abreast of their needs. On average, Dressler said state care centers go through about 500 units of blood a day.

Once collected, the red stuff has a shelf life of about 42 days. “It’s always turning over,” said Dressler, and drives such as these help boost what they have on store. With people’s vacations ending and school schedules picking up, this is a difficult time of year for blood collection, and every drop given is appreciated.

Now entering its third season, the Minotauros is one of 24 teams in the junior-level NAHL. “There are several comparable leagues in Canada,” said Oda, but this is “the only tier-two junior in the US.” With the top 30 players selected from a pool of around 200 that tried out this summer, Tauros players come not just from all over the country, but from around the world. Two of these hail from Minot, forwards Jadin Martin and Josh Colleaux.

The Tauros’ first game of the NAHL 2013-14 season will be next Wednesday morning at 10:30, when they square off against the Corpus Christi IceRays at the league showcase in Blaine, Minn.