There have been a lot of highs and lows in Mandi Schwartz’s battle against cancer. The younger sister of St. Louis Blues’ first round draft pick Jaden Schwartz most recently received a crucial stem cell transplant, a surgery she reportedly is recovering from in Seattle.
Consider Friday one of the highs for the resilient former Yale hockey player. Yale university organized a special “White Out for Mandi” rally against RPI, generating more than $9,000 for her cause.
NHL.com has more on the heartwarming story.
The Yale University women’s hockey team and a record crowd of 1,066 jammed Ingalls Rink to pay tribute to Mandi Schwartz and her incredible two-year battle against cancer during “White Out for Mandi,” on Friday in New Haven, Conn.
“It was really special … there were a ton of former and current students and it was an incredible atmosphere,” Yale junior forward Aleca Hughes told NHL.com. “I was so proud to be associated with such an event for such a special human being. We all admire Mandi and the challenges she’s overcome — it’s just too bad we couldn’t win the hockey game.”
According to Sam Rubin of Yale Sports Publicity, the event raised more than $9,000 for Mandi and her family. Despite the fact Yale suffered a 4-1 loss to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the evening was a huge success as the players and coaches had been planning the “White Out” for weeks. Silent auctions were held for autographed Bobby Orr memorabilia and a jersey from Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Additionally, white T-shirts with Mandi’s number 17 were sold throughout the week and at the game.
The previous high attendance for a Yale women’s hockey home game is believed to be 825, for a playoff game against Princeton in March 2005.
Their opponent RPI also did their part, raising $1,000 for the event. Here are a few more details from the event.
In addition to honoring Mandi with pregame speeches from Yale teammates Alyssa Clarke and Berit Johnson, Yale also introduced the newest member of their team, Giana, a 9-year-old Yale-New Haven Hospital patient 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 held a fund-raiser of their own last weekend.
Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.
Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.
It’s easy to see why.
He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.
“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.
On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.
Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.
From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.
In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.
And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.
During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.
Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.
“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”
Derek Stepan knows he’s not playing very well, and he knows he’ll have to be better if the New York Rangers are going to make it past the Ottawa Senators.
With just one goal (an empty-netter) and one assist in seven playoff games, Stepan’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff after a respectable 55-point regular season, which included 38 assists.
“I’ve stunk since the playoffs started,” Stepan said, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “I’ve been not very good with the puck.”
An all-situations center, Stepan is more than just an offensive type. But he’s produced in previous playoff runs, and the Rangers need him to produce now — especially against a tight-checking Sens team that boasts a 2.00 goals-against average in these playoffs.
Stepan has 45 points (18G, 27A) in 92 career playoff games.
To be fair, he’s not the only Ranger who needs to get going offensively. One of the Blueshirts’ big strengths during the regular season was their balanced scoring, with all four lines contributing — and that’s not happening right now.
The Ducks will be without their most veteran skater on Friday as they look to even up their series with Edmonton.
Kevin Bieksa, who exited Game 1 with a lower-body injury following a collision with fellow d-man Shea Theodore, has been ruled out for tonight’s Game 2. It marks the first tilt the 35-year-old will miss this postseason.
Bieksa was enjoying a pretty good playoff prior to getting hurt. He racked up four assists in five games, while averaging just under 17 minutes per night. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is holding out hope Bieksa could return later in the series.
While this is a loss for the Ducks, it goes a long way in illustrating how much defensive depth they have.
While Carlyle wouldn’t confirm, all signs point to Sami Vatanen drawing in for Bieksa. Vatanen has been out since Game 1 of the Calgary series with an upper-body injury, but has resumed practicing and sounds like he’s ready to go.
“It’s always nice when a player is closer to coming back and you can potentially put them back in the lineup,” Carlyle said of Vatanen.
Anaheim dressed a blueline of Bieksa, Theodore, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat. If Vatanen can’t draw in for Bieksa, the club still has Korbinian Holzer in reserve.