Samantha MacLean Elected 2010-11 Captain

Samantha MacLean. (photo by David Silverman,
Samantha MacLean. (photo by David Silverman,

Junior Defenseman Leads Yale into its 34th Varsity Season

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Junior defenseman Samantha MacLean (Mississauga, Ont.) has been elected captain of the Yale women's ice hockey team for the 2010-11 season. MacLean, who was chosen by a team vote last Wednesday night at Ingalls Rink, leads Yale into its 34th varsity season.

"It's a huge honor," MacLean said. "I'm especially happy to be elected by my teammates. They're a great group. For them to have confidence in my leadership ability means a lot to me."

MacLean has been one of Yale's most reliable defensemen since her freshman season, and she brings a streak of 89 consecutive games played into the 2010-11 campaign. This past year she combined with senior Alyssa Clarke (Donkin, N.S.) as Yale's top defensive pair and part of Yale's top penalty-killing unit. She led the team in +/- with a +5 and also showed the ability to contribute offensively when needed. She finished with a career-high four goals and nine points, including the game-winning goal with 33 seconds left in Yale's 4-3 win over RPI at Ingalls Rink Jan. 16. She also had a goal and an assist, and a +3 rating, in Yale's 3-1 win vs. Colgate Feb. 12.

"Sam plays the game with intensity and is a great decision-maker on the ice and off the ice," Yale head coach Hilary Witt said. "She's the type of kid who works extremely hard, and that's probably No. 1 among the criteria for being a captain. She's not a quiet leader. She will use her voice when she has to. She has high expectations of herself and her teammates, and she handles difficult situations extremely well. Her love of competition and her will to succeed will help lead our team."

Statistics don't tell nearly the whole story for MacLean, as she is the type of player who constantly does all sorts of little things that help her team win but don't show up in the box score -- blocking shots, hustling after loose pucks, shutting down passing lanes.

"I judge each game on whether I worked hard, whether I did everything I could," MacLean said. "If you score a goal that's even better, but I never judge how I play by how many goals I score. It's always a team effort. Especially playing defense, you're back and can see everything on the ice. From that perspective you can always see what's going on and run the plays. That's what I look to do to set the tone."

MacLean is part of a rising senior class that includes some of the most talented players in the history of Yale hockey. Forward Bray Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.) and goalie Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.) were both nominated for the Kazmaier Award as the top player in women's college hockey this season. Forward Lili Rudis (Chicago, Ill.) has battled injuries for the last two seasons but has remained a positive presence throughout that time. And the class now includes perhaps the most inspirational student-athlete of them all -- forward Mandi Schwartz (Wilcox, Sask.), who was initially a member of the Class of 2010 but will return to play next season after spending a year beating leukemia.

That group gives MacLean plenty of other leaders to lean on.

"Not only are they amazing players, but they also have the best work ethics," MacLean said of her classmates. "The work ethic and the leadership abilities of my class are really amazing. It's a huge honor that, out of that great group, I was chosen. That means a lot. I know they're going to support me. Together, as a class, we can do a really good job."

Witt also recognizes the overall leadership of the senior class.

"The great thing about Sam and everyone else in that class is that they know they need each other," said Witt. "As a whole this is just a great senior class. They set high standards, and they will inspire and lead their teammates."

Those high standards go well beyond just what happens on the ice each weekend. MacLean, an economics major, will receive her third ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection this season. In her sophomore year, when she had three assists in 29 games, she received Yale's Coaches' Award for an exemplary work ethic, attitude and commitment to the core values of the Yale Women's Ice Hockey program.

"I think I'm a confident player, and I think the team knows that," MacLean said. "They can rely on me to get my job done, and I rely on them too. We have confidence in each other. We work hard five days a week at practice, and have games as well. It's hard to keep that up, but I think they know that they can look to me to keep them going, to push them. And they push me too."

MacLean scored her first career goal in the first round of the Nutmeg Classic vs. Niagara her freshman year, a 4-4 tie after overtime that Yale eventually won in a shootout. Later in the season she earned ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week honors after scoring the game-winning goal vs. RPI to clinch a playoff berth for Yale in the regular-season finale. She finished her freshman season with two goals and six assists in 31 games.

Before coming to Yale MacLean played in the NWHL at the age of 16, becoming one of the youngest players in the league's history. She had one goal and two assists for the Oakville Ice in 2006-07.  She played for Holy Name of Mary Catholic Secondary School in grades nine and 10, earning MVP of the Ontario Silver Stick Tournament. She also was a two-time MVP of the Ontario Secondary School Ice Gardens Tournament. Her team was three-time provincial gold medalists and two-time provincial silver medalists.

MacLean was initially attracted to Yale for its academics along with the chance to play hockey.

"Obviously it's a prestigious school," MacLean said. "I always wanted to play hockey at a Division I, Ivy school."

Her time at Yale has wound up exceeding her initial expectations.

Yale Women's Ice Hockey Captains from Ontario  
1986-87, 1987-88: Jill Tinmouth (Toronto, Ont.) 
2005-06:  Lisa Jacque (Markham, Ont.)
2007-08:                Ann-Renée Guillemette (North Bay, Ont.)
2010-11:                Samantha MacLean (Mississauga, Ont.)

 "It's been amazing," MacLean said of her Yale experience. "I wouldn't have it any other way. Being on the hockey team means the world to me. We are like a family here. We do everything together and we are so supportive of each other. I couldn't have imagined that it would be like this."

MacLean is in Silliman College at Yale. She is the fourth Ontario native to serve as Yale's women's ice hockey captain. Her sister, Shauna Wilde, was the captain of the women's golf team at Long Island University.


Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity