In collaboration with her brother Maverick, Tatiana Rafter has added to her growing legacy as a remarkable hockey humanitarian. During the holiday season, Rafter, a former Canada West Player of the Year, currently in her debut season with the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts has an admirable goal of giving back to the community during this holiday season while helping two worthy causes.
The result is a charity shinny event that shall be held in conjunction with the OCN Blizzard hockey club, of which Maverick competes with, part of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). Named the First Annual Rafter’s Christmas Cheer Board Classic, it shall take place on December 22 at the Sturgeon Heights Community Centre, starting at 1 pm. Prior to the opening face-off, scheduled at 3 pm, fans will be welcome to skate on the ice and purchase an item at the bake sale.
Of note, 25% of funds raised from Rafter’s charity shinny game will assist Winnipeg’s Christmas Cheer Board, while the other 75% shall look to raise the spirits of a fallen hockey hero. Competing in an MJHL game on November 12, Braden Pettinger sustained an injury with the heartbreaking outcome of paralysis from the neck down. Hailing from Souris, Manitoba, a trust has been started for Pettinger, who bravely fights on.
During his MJHL career, Pettinger competed on the blueline with the Steinbach Pistons, Waywayseecapo Wolverines and the Portage Terriers. Participating in his first game with the Terriers, he crashed into the boards and fractured his C5 veterbrae in numerous places. With an outpouring of local support and through social media, along with the Brandon Wheat Kings raising $9,000, there has been a remarkable feeling of teamwork.
Adding to such momentum is the involvement of Braden’s cousin, Jennifer More, participating in the Rafter’s Christmas Cheer Board Classic. Having recently graduated from the University of Maine, where the resident of Deloraine, Manitoba accumulated In her senior season with the Athol Mirray College of Notre Dame, she served as team captain, helping the Hounds win the 2011 Esso Cup, while garnering MVP honors. Having also played at the 2011 Canada Winter Games, she is currently in her first season of professional hockey with EV Bomo Thun in Switzerland.
Along with the kind efforts of head volunteers Kailee McGibney and Ashley Mitchell, this event captures the spirit of hockey as an ability to bring communities together, fostering the spirit of friendship and sportsmanship. This season alone, Rafter has also participated in two other remarkable events with the Buffalo Beauts. Starting with a fundraiser for breast cancer research, that saw players wearing black and pink jerseys, a second event resulted in the Beauts’ Military Appreciation Night, as Rafter et al donned jerseys with a camouflage motif, honoring the brave men and women of the Armed Forces.
There is no shortage of players eager to assist Rafter in her admirable effort. Of note, six other women’s ice hockey competitors shall participate. Among them are NCAA Division I competitors Tess Bracken from the Dartmouth Big Green and Brooke Langlois, currently with the Maine Black Bears.
Currently with the prestigious Balmoral Hall Blazers program, where she once called Bracken a teammate, Kati Tabin has not only committed to playing with the NCAA’s Quinnipiac Bobcats, she has also committed to taking part in Rafter’s Christmas Cheer Board Classic. Named a JWHL All-Star, she has also engaged in community service, helping sponsor a young boy from Selkirk who dreamed of getting the chance to play hockey.
Completing the group of eight exceptional women participating includes Christine Bumstead, an alumni of St. Mary’s Academy, while another pair of collegiate players are on board. Allison Sexton, a competitor with Merrimack College, plus University of Wisconsin-Superior player Saige Patrick will be on-hand.
As Rafter also welcomes several male competitors that have graced the ice at the WHL and CIS levels, she will also have a featured professional player gracing the ice. Rejean Beauchemin, a veteran of American Hockey League play, whose stops included the Philadelphia Phantoms, Houston Aeros, and the Manitoba Moose will bring his exceptional skills to this admirable event. Standing between the pipes shall be Stonewall Jets’ competitor Stuart Fleury.
Consisting of three 15-minute periods with a pair of intermissions ranging from 15-20 minutes, fans will also be entertained during the stoppage in play. From a centre ice shoot out contest in the first intermission, the second features a Chuck-a-puck contest.
Although fans are encouraged to meet the players prior to the match, they are welcome to write their well-wishes in the #prayersforpettinger book, which will be given to Braden afterwards. For fans with a creative flair, they can make their own pages with art, calligraphy or any other artistic touches, and said pages will also find a cherished place in the book.
Following the game, three different draws shall take place. Beginning with the victor of the 50/50 draw, announcements will include the silent auction prizes, as well as the winners of the stick auctions. Should any keen individuals or groups have any interest in volunteering, donating silent auction prizes, contributing baked goods, or assisting with sponsorship and/or promotion, Tatiana and Maverick Rafter are available via email at [email protected] and [email protected]
Images supplied by Tatiana Rafter