1,066 On Hand to Pay Tribute to Yale Center
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A record crowd of 1,066 was on hand at Ingalls Rink Friday night as the Yale women's hockey team paid tribute to center Mandi Schwartz and her battle with cancer with a "White Out for Mandi". With pledges still coming in, the event has already raised more than $9,000 for Mandi and her family. The only down side was the final score, as RPI came away with a 4-1 win. The lone Yale goal came from two of Schwartz' line mates, as junior forward Aleca Hughes scored off an assist from senior forward Bray Ketchum.
The Bulldogs had been planning the White Out for weeks, lining up donors who pledged based on the attendance, acquiring silent auction items such as autographed Bobby Orr memorabilia and a David Ortiz jersey, and selling white t-shirts with Mandi's number, 17. There was also material about the importance of bone marrow donation and umbilical cord blood donation, as Schwartz' life was saved by a stem cell transplant using donated umbilical cord blood.
The shirts had been on sale throughout the week on campus and were nearly sold out before the game even started. The previous high attendance for a Yale women's hockey home game is believed to be 825 in a playoff game against Princeton in March of 2005.
"Our kids' effort was there. They badly wanted to win this game for Mandi, but it didn't work out," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh.
In addition to honoring Mandi with pregame speeches from her Yale teammates Alyssa Clarke '10 and Berit Johnson '10, the Bulldogs also introduced the newest member of their team: Giana, a nine-year-old Yale-New Haven Hospital patient whom the Bulldogs have adopted. Giana, who is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor, dropped the ceremonial first puck after Yale captain Samantha MacLean accepted a check for $1,000 from RPI on Mandi's behalf. The Engineers had held a fundraiser of their own last weekend.
Hughes had the first scoring chance of the game, getting behind the defense and sending a wrist shot wide but drawing an RPI penalty in the process. The Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of that power play, or another one three minutes later, but did start generating some more quality chances. RPI goalie Sonja van der Bliek smothered a hard slap shot from Hughes at the 7:30 mark, and also denied an attempt by freshman forward Jenna Ciotti right in front after freshman forward Jennifer Lawrence dropped a pass back to her. van der Bliek came up with another big save on a shot by freshman defenseman Aurora Kennedy in the final minute, and the teams went into the first intermission scoreless.
"We started with great energy," said Flygh. "If we could have scored the first goal it would have changed the complexion of the game."
A penalty on Yale early in the second period swung momentum squarely in RPI's favor, as nine seconds later forward Jordan Smelker scored for a 1-0 lead. The penalties continued to mount for the Bulldogs, and less than six minutes after Smelker's first goal she scored again during a 5-on-3.
Midway through the second the Bulldogs began trying to battle back, but freshman forward Jackie Raines' rush down the right side ended with her sending a shot just wide of the far post. Freshman forward Paige Decker sent one wide of the same post right after that, and then Decker just missed connecting with junior forward Lauren Davis right in front of the net. The Engineers brought the puck right down the ice after that and got a goal from forward Sydney O'Keefe at 13:00 to go up 3-0.
While killing another penalty near the end of the second the Bulldogs had another scoring chance, but RPI managed to get a piece of a shot by Ketchum after she had skated through the defense. The Engineers kept their lead intact heading into intermission.
Another goal by Smelker 24 seconds into the third period put the game further out of reach, but with the crowd starting a "Let's Go Bulldogs" chant the team regained its energy. Hughes and Ketchum combined for a goal at 5:07, and five minutes after that a Bulldog power play saw several close shots just miss getting past van der Bliek (19 saves). Yale called time with 2:28 to play and pulled junior goalie Genny Ladiges (36 saves), but a penalty on the Bulldogs quickly negated any chance Yale had to play with an extra attacker. The Engineers finished off the 4-1 win.
"There's no question our kids were disappointed," Flygh said. "It felt like it wasn't a 4-1 game. We knew RPI was going to throw a lot of shots on net, but we felt we had just as many quality chances. RPI did a good job of getting in shooting lanes."
After the game, Giana headed down to the locker room, where she now has her own locker right across from the one that still has Mandi's equipment in it. As she chatted with her new Yale teammates, she also summed up the feeling of the night perfectly.
"They didn't win, but I'm still proud of them."
For more information on Mandi Schwartz, visit http://www.yalebulldogs.com/mandi
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity
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