Courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Yale women's ice hockey team is getting a big assist in its efforts to honor the memory of Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011) at the annual "White Out for Mandi" game at Ingalls Rink on Friday, Jan. 24.
When the NHL's St. Louis Blues found out about the event through Mandi's brother Jaden Schwartz -- a forward who is in his third season with the Blues -- they decided to show their support by having the entire team attend the game with Jaden that night (7:00 p.m. vs. Brown). The goal is to pack Ingalls Rink, with everyone wearing white, as a "White Out for Mandi". The event is a fundraiser for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.
To accommodate the trip to the Yale women's ice hockey game on Jan. 24, the Blues have moved their practice that afternoon to Ingalls Rink. The practice starts at 3:00 p.m. and will be open to the general public.
"Our family was very deeply touched when we heard that the Blues organization committed to attending the White Out for Mandi and was also moving their practice to Ingalls Rink," said Carol Schwartz, Mandi's mother, who will attend the game along with Mandi's father, Rick Schwartz.
"We would especially like to thank Blues president of hockey operations and general manager Doug Armstrong, head coach Ken Hitchcock and all Jaden's teammates for supporting this great event in honor of Mandi."
St. Louis selected Jaden in the first round of the 2010 draft, when Mandi was still battling cancer. The Blues have been a key source of support for the Schwartz family ever since, and even had then-president John Davidson attend Mandi's memorial service at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in her home town of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, in April of 2011.
"I think this commitment to attend the White Out for Mandi speaks volumes about the depth of the Blues organization," said Carol Schwartz. "This is a true reflection of the heart and soul of the Blues family -- a family that drafted Jaden knowing full well that during the draft Jaden's heart, mind and soul were in the midst of the greatest tragedy he would probably ever face. A family that stood by him, that supported him throughout, that provided him with opportunities when the time was right and now a family that will stand by him as he for the first time walks into Ingalls Rink and skates in the arena that his sister Mandi so loved and cherished."
The Schwartzes have maintained their connection to the Yale women's ice hockey program, and the Yale team has kept Mandi's jersey and locker intact in the locker room at Ingalls Rink. Another one of Mandi's game-worn jerseys was recently given by the Schwartzes to the Upper Deck sports card company, which has created special Mandi Schwartz hockey cards containing a piece of the jersey for its "Heroic Inspirations" series. Those cards will be available for purchase at the "White Out for Mandi".
"I know Jaden is looking forward to meeting Mandi's fellow teammates, coaches and friends at Yale and to spending time in her Yale community," said Carol Schwartz. "It's going to a very special day, a day of great honor to Mandi, a great game and a very meaningful launch of her inspirational hockey card. I can see her beautiful smile and feel her pride as her spirit fills Ingalls on Jan. 24."
The Blues -- the team that Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Men's Ice Hockey worked for as goaltending coach from 1998 to 2006 -- will be in the New Haven area because they play at the New York Rangers on Thursday Jan. 23 and at the New York Islanders on Saturday Jan. 25.
In addition to Jaden, the Blues' roster includes U.S. Olympians David Backes, T. J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk; Canadian Olympians Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo; Czech Republic Olympian Vladimir Sobotka; Russian Olympian Vladimir Tarasenko; Slovakian Olympian Jaroslav Halak; and Swedish Olympians Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen.
This is the second season in a row that there has been an NHL presence at the "White Out for Mandi". Last year, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban attended the game just prior to signing a new contract with Montreal.
Aleca Hughes '12, Yale's former captain, started the Mandi Schwartz Foundation in memory of Mandi, the Bulldogs center who passed away in April 2011 after battling cancer for more than two years. Donations to the Mandi Schwartz Foundation will be accepted at the door on Jan. 24. Special white sweatshirts are being sold, and youth hockey teams are encouraged to come wearing white jerseys. Additional details about the day, including auction items, will be announced in the near future.
In addition to raising funds for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, the event will also help raise awareness of the need for marrow donors and umbilical cord blood donors. In an effort to save her life in the fall of 2010, Mandi had a stem cell transplant utilizing blood from two anonymous umbilical cord blood donations. Stem cells for patients with life-threatening illnesses like Mandi's can also come from marrow donors. Yale hosts an annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive every spring to add potential donors to the Be The Match® Registry. To date, at least 21 donor matches for patients in need of transplants have been identified through those efforts. One of those donor matches was a Yale football player, senior John Oppenheimer.
The attendance record for a women's hockey game at Ingalls Rink is 1,539, set on Nov. 1, 2005, when Team USA played an exhibition game against the ECAC Hockey All-Stars. The capacity of Ingalls Rink is 3,500.