DULUTH - Apart from the Columbia Inferno arriving late and delaying the start of Sunday's game nearly two hours, the Gwinnett Gladiators "Pink in the Rink" weekend was a resounding success.
OK, beating the Inferno would have been nice, too. But the shootout loss still gave the Gladiators five out of a possible six points for the weekend.
Gwinnett rallied in all three games and picked up two wins over Wheeling before falling to Columbia in the shootout.
Those are good numbers. But the two really impressive ones came from the fans.
A combined 20,508 people attended the three games played on pink ice.
The dye job and special jerseys were part of an event designed to raise money and awareness for women's cancer research.
Then the hot-pink-and-black jerseys were auctioned off for an astonishing $56,625 following Sunday's game.
That total well exceeded the team's previous high for a specialty jersey. Two years ago, the military tribute game-worn jerseys accrued about $48,000.
Andy Brandt's jersey fetched the most on Sunday, selling for a whopping $3,975.
"It's unbelievable," the rookie forward from Wisconsin said. "I couldn't thank the people enough. It's going to a great cause.
"A close family friend of ours just got over breast cancer about a year ago. So I can't thank the people enough for coming out and supporting this and raising all this money. We had a good weekend for them. I'm glad to be a part of what goes on."
Brandt said he was impressed with the way the whole weekend went.
"From the ice and to having everyone in the stands wearing pink," Brandt said. "We had great crowds all weekend and that made it fun, too.
"Everyone comes out and supports the cause. It's kind of sad that it relates to everybody, but it does. It's part of life so it touches everyone. I'm just glad people came out to support this. I'm glad we could do something."
Even within the organization, the cause was very personal.
Head coach Jeff Pyle and majority owner Toby Jeffreys both lost their mothers to breast cancer.
During the auction, word spread as defenseman Jamie Milam's jersey was being bid on that a group of fans had pooled their money to buy it and give it to the family.
His aunt has breast cancer, Gladiators general manager Steve Chapman said, and the fans wanted her to have Milam's jersey. So bidding stopped around $1,800. A large sum to be sure, but not nearly as high as many went for.
Leading point-getter Jeff Campbell had his go for $3,100. Rookie tough guy Myles Stoesz and last year's ECHL MVP Brad Schell each saw their jerseys sell for $3,000.
Chad Denny, a rookie under contract to the Atlanta Thrashers, brought in a combined $3,500 - $2,700 for his jersey and $800 for a pink helmet he wore during pregame warm-ups.
It was Brandt's first experience with the special jersey auction and he said he had no idea he was so popular.
"I was standing up there and we were kind of joking around about it," Brandt said. "Soupy's went for quite a bit and Scheller's went for quite a bit. You know, the guys who have been here a while.
"So I got up there and was kind of shocked. Like I said, I couldn't thank the people enough that got it and I'm just glad to be a part of it."
The final total for money raised won't be known for a while. The Gladiators also used pink sticks during pregame warm-ups which will be auctioned off online starting this week.
"You could just tell the whole thing hit a chord," Chapman said. "I really thought that it would be a success. We had that record year when we did the military appreciation jerseys. I was hoping we would be in that range. Obviously we were.
"The whole weekend went great. A lot of work went into it, from not just us but the charity groups that we worked with, down to John Martin doing the ice and the arena staff. It was definitely a great weekend."
Also, a portion of sales from all the pink Gladiators merchandise sold during the weekend will be donated to several organizations, including Gwinnett's own Tutus for Tatas, the American Cancer Society, Emory Eastside and the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation.
"It was a great weekend," Chapman said. "We had 20,000 people come to the building in three days. I think the whole event itself, just the fans really being into it, and obviously the jersey auction was a big success.
"It was great. With the exception of our little delay, it was doggone near perfect."