8TH ANNUAL MANDI SCHWARTZ CHALLENGE SET TO FACEOFF THIS WEEKEND
Thursday, Sept. 21st - The Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) in partnership with the University of Regina Cougars Women’s Hockey Team is set to host the Annual Mandi Schwartz Challenge beginning today (Thursday) at the Cooperators Centre in Regina.
This tournament style event will also work as the final selection phase for U18 Female Team Saskatchewan who will represent our great province at the National Women’s U18 Championship which will take place in Quebec City in November. The top 27 players chosen from the Summer Camp attend this tournament for Team Saskatchewan. Each player will be evaluated during practices, games, fitness and other intangibles. The top 20 will make up Team Saskatchewan and that roster will be announced on September 26th.
At the Mandi Schwartz Challenge, the Team Saskatchewan hopefuls will face-off against the Cougars to kick off the event on Thursday at 4 pm. Other teams participating include the University of Manitoba, SAIT, Regina Bantam AA Monarchs and Lady Cougars Alumni. This is a unique event as few provincial branches within Canada partner with CIS teams for a competitive tournament such as the Mandi Schwartz Challenge.
The Female SaskFirst High Performance Program begins every February with regional camps held across the province and are open to all players in the U16 and U18 categories. From there, the top players are invited to take place in the SaskFirst Tournament held in April at which time the top 42 are chosen to attend the upcoming summer camp. The process ensures all players not only have the opportunity to compete with their peers, but receive significant exposure as all SaskFirst events are highly attended by scouts from a variety of elite leagues. In addition, the SaskFirst Program is a gateway to Hockey Canada’s Female High Performance Program which includes their National Teams.
The SaskFirst Program is unique as no other provincial branches offer such as in depth developmental program for athletes, coaches and officials. It remains the mission of the SHA to Lead, promote and develop positive hockey experiences across the entire Province of Saskatchewan.
The Mandi Schwartz Challenge began in September of 2010. Mandi was an alumni of the Sask First program and grew up in the SHA’s female programs, eventually making her way to Team Saskatchewan. Mandi played on Team Saskatchewan at the 2003 Canada Winter Games and made the team three additional times. Mandi attended and played her high school hockey in Notre Dame with the Hounds, she then went on to play for the Yale University Bulldogs. In December of 2008, Mandi was diagnosed with cancer (acute myeloid leukemia). Mandi received treatment and returned to Yale for the spring semester, however in April of 2010 Mandi learned that the cancer had returned. Mandi then received a stem cell transplant in September 2010, but later in December learned that the cancer had once again returned. Mandi lost her battle with cancer and passed away on April 3, 2011 at the age of 23. Mandi’s undeniable caring heart and selflessness will never be forgotten. Not only was Mandi an incredible athlete and hockey player, she was an amazing person and will be remembered for that.