The Yale women's hockey team will pay tribute to their teammate, Mandi Schwartz, before what they hope will be an inspired packed house at Ingalls Rink on Nov. 12 when they play host to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Schwartz, who is in Seattle recovering from a stem-cell transplant after nearly two years of battling leukemia, will be honored in a special pre-game ceremony at approximately 6:45 p.m., just prior to the 7 p.m. start.
According to Sam Rubin of Yale Sports Publicity, the Bulldogs hope to set the record for attendance at a women's game at Ingalls Rink. The current mark is 1,539, set Nov. 1, 2005, when Team USA's women's hockey team played an exhibition game against the ECAC Women's Hockey All-Stars. The capacity of Ingalls Rink is 3,500.
"We're so excited to be doing this for Mandi," Yale junior forward Aleca Hughes told NHL.com. "Every time we're on the ice, we're thinking of her and to be able to have a ton of fans there with us on her night will be something very special. The whole team came up with the idea and it's going to be great to see her recognized for her fight against cancer."
Schwartz, the sister of St. Louis Blues 2010 first-round pick Jaden Schwartz, won't be attendance as she's currently in the engraftment stage of her remarkable recovery. Engraftment is needed in order for the transplanted stem cells to begin growing in her bone marrow and manufacture new blood cells and immune cells. Her life-saving transplant at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's in-patient transplant unit at the University of Washington Medical Center on Sept. 22 utilized blood from two anonymous umbilical cord blood donations.
"Her number (17) is everywhere in our locker room," Hughes said. "We wear t-shirts with her favorite quote on the back -- 'Struggle and emerge'. We all can't wait to have her back in the weight room and on the ice with us at some point down the road. We're all absolutely confident in her making a full recovery."
In addition to playing before a capacity crowd, players would like every fan in attendance to wear white, as a "White Out for Mandi" to show their support. There is no admission fee to the game but donations for Schwartz will be accepted at the door. The team is lining up pledges from donors based on the attendance total, meaning every person will count toward the final donation total. The event also will help raise awareness for bone marrow and umbilical cord blood donors.
"The weeks since the transplant have been physically tough on Mandi, and there have been several scary moments, but she continues to fight," Mandi's mother, Carol, told Rubin. "She remains focused on her goal of overcoming every challenge and getting her health back. We are all inspired by the support we have received from so many different people throughout this process."
The special white T-shirts will be made available at the game.
For further details and other fund-raising events that will take place at the game, go to yalebulldogs.com.