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Better Halves Spreading Hockey Family Love

by Kelly Erickson / Minnesota Wild

Every player on the Minnesota Wild has a support system, and it often starts with a woman — be it a wife, girlfriend, daughter or mother.

The women behind the men of the Minnesota Wild do much more than just support the guys on the ice night in and night out. Forming the “Better Halves” organization, the wives and girlfriends get together in an effort to create a positive impact on the community.

“We know [the players] are the hot commodity, but its just letting people know we’re one big family in the hockey world,” Nicole Brodziak said. “We want to be a part of everything, to help out and give back too.”

Every year the Better Halves hold a meeting to discuss potential community events they want to participate in, which charities they’d like to work with — including suggesting ones with which they’d like to be personally involved — and to get a better feel of the impact they hope to have.

“Everyone is really excited and everybody wants to get out there and do things,” Stefanie Stoner said.

“We have a really good group of girls this year, like we do every year,” Brodziak added. “Everyone wants to help out so we’ll be busy.”

In the past they’ve done community outreach by providing and serving a meal to families at the Ronald McDonald House, they have sponsored families from the Salvation Army during the holiday season, and they were also a part of the Hockey for Huggies drive in the 2011-12 season.

The Better Halves also have assisted the Wild Foundation in fundraising efforts by selling Mystery Pucks, Mystery Hats, and Favorite Things Baskets filled with their families favorite things from movies, books, food, apparel and much more.

The Better Halves are already involved in several activities this year including hosting Wild Bingo at the Children’s Hospital the first Friday of every month. They also plan to participate in the St. Jude’s Give Thanks Walk in November. But this weekend they’ll host their first big event at Saturday’s game against Dallas: a Pajama Drive for the Wild’s Hockey Fights Cancer Month.

The Better Halves will be stationed at Xcel Energy Center’s Gates 1-4 Saturday ready to take pajama donations, which Wild Players and their Better Halves will deliver to pediatric units across the Twin Cities.

They hosted a similar event two years ago, which saw a pretty good turnout, though with greater promotion around this year’s event, the Better Halves hope to have more Wild fans donating pajamas

Stoner noted they’ll be on Twin Cities Live to speak about the event Tuesday to help spread the word, all in an effort to get more pajamas Saturday. Brodziak is also confident that after last year’s lockout, the excitement surrounding this season will inspire everyone to become more engaged in general.

“I think everyone is just really excited about the season after having the lockout last year,” Brodziak said. “I think fans will be more involved and there are more wives this year that want to be a part of it.

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