07/14/2014 06:28 EDT | Updated 07/14/2014 06:59 EDT

Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues Player, Switches Jersey Number To Honour Dead Sister

St. Louis Blues' Jaden Schwartz in action during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

St. Louis Blues player Jaden Schwartz is honouring his deceased sister by switching to the same jersey number she wore when she played hockey at Yale.

The Saskatchewan-born NHL player announced on Twitter last week that he would be switching from No. 9 to No. 17 as a tribute to his sister Mandi, who died of acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 23 in 2011.

Schwartz took the number after centreman Vladimir Sobotka, who wore No. 17, joined Russia's Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), CBC News reported.

"He's always stated that what he does he does for her, because she loved hockey so much," mother Carol Schwartz said of Jaden.

"I mean, he loves it too, but I think he just pushes himself a little bit more and uses her as his role model."

Mandi played at Yale for three seasons before her leukemia diagnosis in 2008, The New York Daily News reported.

The disease went into remission following chemotherapy, but it later came back.

In response, her teammates launched a high-profile campaign to find her a bone marrow donor, said The New York Times.

They did not find a perfect match for Mandi, but they did identify donors for five others.

Mandi underwent a stem-cell transplant in September 2010 but by December the cancer had returned once more. She stopped aggressive treatments and died in April 2011.

Yale University's women's hockey team now holds an annual "White Out for Mandi" game that works to raise awareness about the need for bone marrow transplants.

Jaden attended the game in January and visited the team's locker room, where Mandi's No. 17 jersey had hung since 2011.

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