“Some things are bigger than hockey,” Caribou CBR Brave’s Casey Kubara says.
For those following Canberra’s Australian Ice Hockey League team, it’s a comment seemingly at odds with the performances of the alternate captain and his leaderboard-topping team.
Casey racked up his 200th point (including goals and assists) in recent weeks, while his team has already clinched a spot in the Goodall Cup finals in August.
But Brave’s last home game of the season at the Brave Cave, aka Phillip Ice Skating Centre, on Saturday 12 August is set to be a deeply personal one for Casey.
The team will take on the Central Coast Rhinos in a special Hockey Fights Cancer round to help raise funds and awareness for the charitable organisation’s cause.
One-off jerseys designed for the round will also be auctioned after the game, with a proportion of proceeds going to Brave’s chosen cause, the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
“We play with our hearts on our sleeves and whenever we have lost a member within the community, we wear a black armband, or a purple armband for cancer,” Casey says.
“It’s something we’ve done too often this year, losing a few people close to the team. So, it’s definitely something to play for and it puts into perspective some things are bigger than hockey.”
One of Brave’s biggest fans recently passed away after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. She was buried in a Brave jersey, with the team holding a hockey-style guard of honour at her funeral.
Casey says the team will not only be playing for the three people the Brave community has lost to the disease, but all those affected in the community.
“I think it’s important we highlight that you’re not alone, you have a support network and you’re not fighting the fight alone,” he says.
“There are a lot of people there for you, whether it’s to reach out or to talk or to support you in any way possible.”
The most recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data indicates 1000-2000 Canberrans are typically diagnosed with cancer each year.
While survival rates have improved in recent decades, the disease remains a leading cause of death in Australia. About 50,000 people die from the illness each year.
“I don’t think there’s a person in the world that hasn’t been affected by cancer, whether it’s your friend, family member, distant relative or somebody you look up to,” says Casey, who was born and raised in Wollongong.
“And for those people who somehow haven’t been affected by cancer, it’s nice to support a good cause and to be there for other people, even when you don’t know them.”
The Brave also recently supported local not-for-profit organisation, Menslink, and is competing with the Adelaide Adrenaline in a four-game series for the Beyond Blue Cup to encourage people to think about mental health. “I think it just goes back to the heart and soul of the team and the Canberra community,” Casey says.
“That’s why we’re so successful. We built this awesome culture, we support one another and we really try to give back as best we can to the community.
“It’s so much more than just hockey or just the game, it really is something that brings people together and it’s just really special to be a part of.”
For more information and to purchase tickets for the Caribou CBR Brave’s last home game of the season on Saturday 12 August visit Caribou CBR Brave