Senior defenseman Eric Johnson is spearheading Notre Dame hockey's Movember fundraising efforts.

Carrying On The

Nov. 27, 2014

Notre Dame, Indiana –

By Sarah Pryor

No shave November may be a trend that everyone is familiar with and it can lead to crazy beards and good fun, but for the third straight year, members of the Notre Dame hockey team have decided to take it a step farther. The team partners with the Movember Foundation, which has the goal of raising awareness and money for research on men’s health issues especially prostate cancer.

The Movember Foundation focuses on men’s health issues and is a global organization that has had large amounts of success by using a small gesture – growing a mustache – to tackle a very serious issue. The community they have helped form has had great success in fundraising, having raised 559-million dollars, which is a number that continues to grow. Creative and unique mustaches are encouraged and they could even land you in the Movember Hall of Fame.

Although the foundation promotes fun, its impact is not a small one by any means. The Movember Foundation has a presence in 21 different countries and has funded over 800 different programs. The money raised to date has gone towards saving and improving the lives of men with prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

Former Notre Dame defenseman Stephen Johns was an advocate of Movember and got the Irish hockey team involved a couple years ago.

After Johns graduated following the 2013-14 season, the team needed someone to step into his role and take over as the new team leader for the fundraiser. That person was senior defenseman, Eric Johnson.

“It’s been history ever since,” says Johnson of the hockey team’s mustache-growing tradition.

“As a team, we all try to grow mustaches.”

This is how the team answers the challenge that the Movember Foundation has put out there for all men. The senior from Verona, Wisconsin, explains that it is an easy way that he and his teammates can give back and raise awareness about an important cause. To date, four-million mustaches have been grown for this cause worldwide and the Movember Foundation vows that they will continue, as long as these serious men’s health issues are still in existence, which may be no small task, but they seem willing to work to make Movember the new norm instead of November.

However, they are still competitive athletes so naturally based on the fun spirited goal of the Movember Foundation the team partakes in some internal competition based on who has the best mustache and has a mustache that might need a little work. This competition comes down to vote at the end of the month across a variety of characteristics including the best mustache, the best trimmed mustache and as Johnson says, “who might have a mustache at some point later in life.”

Former Notre Dame goaltender, Joe Rogers, was very successful over the past two years and within the hockey organization his mustache is well known and respected. However, Rogers has graduated leaving an opening for someone else to take his spot as the top mustache grower. With a young team, including quite a few freshmen, there might be some serious competition in the last category of who might have a mustache in the future.

Based on Johnson’s best estimation, he thinks that the front runners consist of senior defenseman Robbie Russo, sophomore left wing Ali Thomas and junior center Stephen Fogarty. On the reverse side Johnson comments that some of the freshmen’s mustaches may need a little bit of work if they want to beat out any of the other mustaches. With the month of Movember winding down, it may not be too much of a struggle for the rookies, since once December begins all of the mustaches are shaved based on team rules.

Raising awareness is definitely an important part of the entire month since it is a fundraiser and the team is still looking to raise money for the foundation. In 2012 the team was able to raise over $4,500 and last year in 2013 they were able to increase that to a total of $5,200. This year the team would love to add to those totals.

Over the two-game series with UMass Lowell (Nov. 20-21), the Compton Family Ice Arena turned into a place full of mustaches (some fake and some real). Fans were able to purchase fake mustaches for one dollar each with all proceeds going directly to the Movember Foundation. Also Chuck-A-Puck took place at the Friday game with the pucks sold for $5 each. The hockey team also organized a silent auction with a wide range of prizes that were perfect for hockey fans. The prizes included a team autographed hockey stick, a chance to ride the Zamboni at a future game, a tour of the hockey locker room, a twenty person box for a future game, and many additional prizes. The team also has their own official fundraising page through the Movember Foundation’s website which allows anyone to donate to the foundation through the Notre Dame Hockey team.

This weekend’s Shillelagh Tournament will give fans one final chance to help the cause as one-dollar mustaches will be sold at all four games of the tournament that will be played on Nov. 28-29.

Members of the Notre Dame community are no stranger to giving back and being involved in charity work and the hockey team is no different.

“We try to get as many community service hours as possible and this is another way to do that and give back to people who are struggling with cancer,” says Johnson.

Movember is just one of the many things the hockey team participates in to give back to the community.

“We always wait for November” Johnson explains when reflecting on the importance of this month and fundraiser to the team.

“Notre Dame is really community based, and that is something, as a hockey team that we try to take advantage of. The mustaches will only fill Compton for the remainder of the month of November but the cause is one that exists all year.”