Thursday, 7 January 2016

Hockey humanitarian Tatiana Rafter admirably assists a fallen hockey hero

A true spirit of teamwork defined the kind gesture, as Tatiana Rafter worked alongside her brother Maverick, resulting in the First Annual Rafter’s Christmas Cheer Board Classic. Hosted on December 22 at the Sturgeon Heights Community Centre, the Classic featured numerous events, organized by volunteers such as Kailee McGibney and Ashley Mitchell, highlighted by a charity shinny game.
After a highly accomplished career under the tutelage of head coach Graham Thomas with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds women’s hockey program (earning Canada West Player of the Year honors), Rafter has graduated to the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts, competing in the first 11 games in franchise history. During downtime, Rafter donates her time to Buffalo-area charities, embodying the spirit of hockey humanitarians. In addition, she has participated in a pair of fundraising contests with the Beauts, one for breast cancer research, and another for military families.  
Raised in Manitoba, Rafter is among a growing number of women’s hockey stars, establishing the province as a place of great promise in the development of future talent. The chance to help launch the Classic was an opportunity for Rafter to give back to the community, showing a gratitude that sets a positive example for younger players.
With the support of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s OCN Blizzard, the club team of Maverick, all proceeds raised at the Classic found their way to a pair of charitable causes. Of 
note, Winnipeg’s Christmas Cheer Board was the beneficiary of 25% of all funds raised.
The other 75% went towards a trust fund to aid a fallen hockey hero in the Manitoba hockey 
community. Like Maverick, Braden Pettinger also competes in the MJHL. Sadly, his career reached an abrupt end on November 12. Crashing into the boards in his debut match for the Portage Terriers, no one could have foreseen the life-changing injury to come.
Paralyzed from the neck down, Pettinger is currently in the biggest fight of his life. For the native of Souris, Manitoba, the Rafters are among a group of kindhearted individuals looking to ensure a dignified future ahead. The Brandon White Kings have raised over $9,000, while his cousin, Jennifer More, a former competitor for the University of Maine Black Bears, laced her skates for the Classic. 
More was joined by several other female skaters in the Classic, including current NCAA competitors Tess Bracken (Darmtouth) and Brooke Langlois (Maine). Other collegiate players included Saige Patrick and Allison Sexton. Kati Tabin, a JWHL All-Star with the Balmoral Hall Blazers and former St. Mary’s Academy skater Christine Bumstead were also on-hand.

Fans in attendance at the Classic were encouraged to offer words of support in a #prayersforpettinger book, which was given to Pettinger following the shinny match. Adding to such a kind gesture was the fact that the Rafter's Christmas Classic raised over $5,000 for Pettinger. 
While Rafter is back in Buffalo, the fantastic momentum continues. Having logged her first career point in NWHL play, a game winning goal against the US Under-18 National Team, Rafter is looking to propel the incipient club towards a postseason berth. 

Juggling her volunteer time with the Buffalo Bisons' junior girls teams and her gracious efforts with the book nook at the Buffalo Women's and Children's Hospitals,there is no question that the Classic shall always hold a special place in her heart. Resulting in a hockey highlight for the shinny competitors who graciously donated their time and a special, heartwarming gift of encouragement for Pettinger, Rafter’s heart of gold shall always make her a winner, both on and off the ice.

Female Players

Tatiana Rafter — 

BuffaloBeauts, NWHL

Tess Bracken — Dartmouth College, NCAA Division 1

Kati Tabin — Balmoral Hall Blazers (JWHL), committed to Quinnipiac University, NCAA Division 1

Christine Bumstead — alumnus of St. Mary’s Academy

Allison Sexton — Merrimack College, NCAA Division 1
Brooklyn Langlois — Maine Black Bears, NCAA Division 1
Saige Patrick — University of Wisconsin Superior, NCAA Division III

Male Players
Ryley Lindgren — Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL
Adam Brooks — Regina Pats, WHL
Chase Harrison — Regina Pats, WHL
Nick Zajac — Saskatoon Blades, WHL
Keegan Kolesar – Seattle, WHL
Maverick Rafter, OCN Blizzard, MJHL
Rhett Lough, Waywayseecappo Wolverines, MJHL
Cole McCartan, Selkirk Steelers, MJHL
Dallas Starodub — Selkirk Steelers, MJHL
Kevin Takatch – Waywayseecappo Wolverines, MJHL
Lucas Froese — Ryerson Rams, CIS

Male Alumni Players
Rejean Beauchemin – former Philadelphia Flyers draft choice who played parts of four American Hockey League seasons as a goaltender for the Philadelphia Phantoms, Houston Aeros, and Manitoba Moose.
Jordan Geddes — Portage College, ACAC
Cole Pruden — UBC Thunderbirds, CIS
Cody Danylchuk — Winnipeg Blues, MJHL
Jordan Miller — St. James Canucks, MMJHL
Matt Garvey — St. James Canucks (currently playing lacrosse for Concordia University, Wisconsin)
Stuart Fleury — Stonewall Jets, G, MMJHL
Justin McIntyre — Oak Park Raiders
Dallas McDougal — St. Paul’s High School
Marcus Hudon — Sturgeon Heights Huskies

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