Jackee Snikeris Wraps Up Stint at USA Hockey Camp

Jackee Snikeris. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Jackee Snikeris. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldog Part of Gathering of Nation's Best Goaltenders

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With her graduation from Yale just days away, goaltender Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.), continues her work between the pipes. Snikeris just concluded a stint at USA Hockey's Warren Strelow Goaltending camp, where she was part of a group of 12 of the best goaltenders in the country. She has been invited to the camp in all four years of its existence.

The Strelow camp took place in Ann Arbor, Mich., from May 12 to 15. All goaltenders invited to the camp are under consideration to play for USA Hockey at the highest levels of international competition. The camp is for the top female and male goaltenders in the country and features both on-ice and off-ice work with multiple coaches. Joe Exter, the former Merrimack goalie who played professionally in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, is USA Hockey's National Team Goaltending Coach. The camp also included coaches from other colleges plus the New York Islanders, along with former NHL and Olympic goaltenders Robb Stauber and John Vanbiesbrouck.

The camp is named after Warren Strelow, who helped coach the goalies on the gold medal-winning U.S. "Miracle on Ice" men's team at the 1980 Olympics. Strelow also coached in the NHL, working with stars such as Martin Brodeur. He passed away in 2007.

A five-time USA Hockey player development camp pick when she played for the Taft School and the Connecticut Polar Bears prior to coming to Yale, Snikeris was a nominee for the Kazmaier Award as the top player in college hockey and was also first team All-New England this past year. She was ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Year, first team All-ECAC Hockey and first team All-Ivy League. She also earned ECAC Hockey's Student-Athlete of the Year Award and was Academic All-Ivy League. She recently won the Sarah Devens Award, a joint ECAC Hockey-Hockey East honor for the student-athlete who "demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice." 

Snikeris posted some of the best numbers of her stellar career this past season, highlighted by her .941 save percentage that placed her seventh in the country. That figure set the school record in that category, and gives her four of the top eight single-seasons save percentage marks in Yale history. Her 1.98 goals-against average this season ranks third, trailing only her own 1.67 mark from 2008-09 and the 1.978 mark posted by June Mendoza '80 in 1978-79. Snikeris has four of the top seven single-season goals-against averages in Yale history.

Snikeris had three shutouts this season, extending her school career record in that category to 16 -- four more than any other player. She also finished her career with a save percentage of .931, breaking the school record in that category (.915, Sarah Love '06) by 16 points. She had a career goals-against average of 2.12, breaking the school record in that category (2.61, Shivon Zilis '08) by nearly half a goal. Her 2,092 career saves place her fifth on Yale's all-time list.

Prior to coming to Yale Snikeris graduated cum laude from the Taft School, where she was a two-time captain of the ice hockey team and won the school's Patsy K. Odden Award for leadership and sportsmanship. She also played for the Connecticut Polar Bears, earning Easton Skills Overall Best Goaltender and winning the Breakaway competition at 2007 US Nationals.

Besides Snikeris, Yale has many connections to the USA Hockey program. Defenseman Helen Resor '09 was the first Yale women's ice hockey player to make the Olympics when she played for Team USA and earned a bronze medal in Torino in 2006. She also has two gold medals (2005, 2009) and one silver (2007) with the U.S. at the IIHF World Championships. Forward Crysti Howser '09 was a member of USA Hockey's Under-22 Select team in 2007 and 2008, playing in the annual three-game series against Team Canada. She scored a goal for the U.S. in 2008. Senior forward Bray Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.) was on the Under-22 Team last summer. Ketchum, along with three other Bulldogs (sophomore goalie Erin Callahan (Kenilworth, Ill.), junior forward Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.) and sophomore defenseman/forward Natalie Wedell (Arden Hills, Minn.)), participated in USA Hockey's Open Olympic Team Tryouts two years ago.

Additionally, forward Maria Dennis '88 was on the 1990 U.S. Women's National Team that earned silver at the first IIHF Women's World Championship, and goaltender Laurie Belliveau '98 was on the U.S. Women's National Team that earned silver at the 1999 IIHF Women's World Championship.

Yale's USA Hockey connections include positions behind the bench as well. Current Yale assistant coach Jessica Koizumi earned a gold medal as a player for the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2008 IIHF World Women's Championship. Former Yale head coach Hilary Witt was on the U.S. National Team in 2000-01. Also, former Yale men's hockey assistant coach Ben Smith coached the U.S. women's team at the Olympics three times, winning a gold medal in 1998, and has served as a National Team advisor. Former Yale equipment manager Ed Maturo was equipment manager with the U.S. Women's Olympic Team in 2006 and the U.S. Men's Olympic Team in 1994.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity