When the Yale women’s hockey team takes on Brown at Ingalls Rink tonight, the game will mean much more than just the score at the end of the contest.
Tonight’s game marks the fourth annual “White Out for Mandi,” a charity event in honor of forward Mandi Schwartz ’10, a former Eli women’s hockey player who died in 2011 after a 28-month-longbattle with acute myeloid leukemia.
The event will raise money for the Mandi Schwartz foundation, an initiative founded by former team captain Aleca Hughes ’12 that supports youth hockey players with life-threatening conditions, according to forward Paige Decker ’14.
Decker co-organized this year’s event with Jenna Ciotti ’14, and Hughes has also helped with organizing, Decker said.
“[The event] has been a pretty big success [in past years],” captain Tara Tomimoto ’14 said. “We’ve gotten a lot of support from friends and family, but this year we’re hoping to get a lot more support from the broader Yale community.”
The Bulldogs are encouraging as many fans as possible to come wearing white in order to break the attendance record for a women’s hockey game at Ingalls Rink. The current record is 1,539, set in 2005 during a game between Team USA and the ECAC All-Star team.
Fans do not have to pay admission for the event, but can donate money at the door. In addition, just showing up will help the foundation, because many donors have pledged money per spectator, according to Decker.
“That’s why we make admission free, so that people will have more reason to go to the game,” goaltender Jaimie Leonoff ’15 said.
The team is trying to raise more than $22,537, which the White Out raised in 2011. Last season, the event raised just under $8,000, according to Decker.
The St. Louis Blues of the NHL will attend the game to support Jaden Schwartz, Mandi Schwartz’s younger brother, who is a forward for the Blues. The Blues will also hold an open practice at Ingalls at 3:00 p.m. today.
The game will feature several silent auctions, which will be a major fundraiser for the foundation, and a puck drop by Jaden Schwartz and Giana Cardonita, a 12-year old brain tumor survivor whom the team has adopted as an honorary member.
Bulldog players said that the memory of Schwartz has lived on among the team since she left it three years ago.
“By this point, the only people who had a chance to know and meet Mandi are the seniors,” Decker said. “Not a lot of the girls knew her personally, but her legacy has definitely lived on in the way that people honor her, remember her and speak about her as a person who was incredibly courageous, hardworking, positive and overall an amazing person.”
The event bears special significance for Tomimoto, who was Schwartz’s lifting partner during her freshman year.
Tomimoto said that Schwartz continues to inspire the Elis.
“She was such a hard worker, and I think we always try to carry her work ethic in whatever we do,” Tomimoto said.
In addition to helping raise money for the Mandi Schwartz foundation, fans will also get to enjoy a game that could significantly affect the ECAC standings.
Yale (6–10–3, 4–5–3 ECAC) will play Brown (2–13–4, 1–9–2) twice, once tonight and again tomorrow in Providence. Four points would be a huge help to the Elis, who are just three points away from fifth place in the ECAC standings with 10 games left in the season.
The Bears are at the very bottom of the ECAC standings, but they just recently broke a 15-game winless streak by defeating St. Lawrence last weekend.
“A lot of the games they’ve played have been one-goal or two-goal games,” Leonoff said. That’s something we need to be ready for. I don’t expect them to come and let us walk all over them, but I definitely think we’re the better team, and hopefully we can show that in front of our fans.”
The puck will drop at Ingalls Rink at 7:00 p.m. tonight.