October 20, 2011

Season Starts With Pair of Games at Ingalls this Weekend

Second Season Under Flygh Opens with Visits from Niagara, No. 8 Northeastern

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The signs of progress in the Yale women's ice hockey team's first season under head coach Joakim Flygh last year included a dramatic increase in scoring in conference games (up 17 percent) and a battle until the final day of the season for one of ECAC Hockey's eight playoff spots. This year the Bulldogs look to continue their progress, starting with a pair of games this weekend at Ingalls Rink (Friday, 7 p.m. vs. Niagara and Saturday, 2 p.m. vs. No. 8 Northeastern). Senior forward Aleca Hughes captains the Bulldogs in their 35th varsity season.

FORWARDS

A pair of seniors, Hughes and Lauren Davis, provide leadership up front. Hughes is coming off a season in which she scored a career-high 10 goals, leading the team in that category.  Davis carved out a role for herself as a tenacious forechecker while also nabbing her first career goal.

A versatile group of junior forwards can contribute at both ends of the ice. Jen Matichuk continued the development she displayed during her freshman season, picking up an assist in a key win at Brown late in the year while cutting her penalties down from 18 to five for the season. Danielle Moncion also ended the season on an up note, with three of her five points for the year coming in the final eight games.

Another junior, Alyssa Zupon, has been one of Yale's best defensive forwards ever since she arrived in New Haven. She is also a playmaker on offense with 18 assists over the past two years -- second only to Bray Ketchum '11 (22) in that time span. One of the team's best performers on face-offs as well, Zupon has contributed nine career goals.

The development of Yale's sophomore class likely will have the greatest impact on the Bulldogs' offensive fortunes this year, because that groups accounts for nearly half of the team's forwards. Jenna Ciotti tied for second on the team in goals last year with nine, and she was third in points (15). Paige Decker's speed should enable her to contribute offensively; she was her high school team's leading scorer before arriving at Yale.

Another freshman forward, Ashley Dunbar, worked her way into the scoring column right before the season ended. She picked up her first two career points with assists in the win at Brown, then scored the game-winning goal in the Bulldogs' 1-0 win over Quinnipiac in the season's second-to-last game.

Jenn Lawrence, who led both her high school and club team in scoring, registered a pair of goals last season. Patricia McGauley scored her first career goal just two games into her college career, adding a pair of assists later in the year. Jackie Raines had the biggest impact of all on the scoring column, leading the Bulldogs in points (9-10-19) as a freshman. She also led the team in power-play goals with three. Raines was the ninth freshman in Yale history to lead the team in scoring, and the first since Crysti Howser '09 in 2005-06.

Freshman Lynn Kennedy (Markham, Ont.) joins Yale after helping the Toronto Junior Aeros to a PWHL Championship and a silver medal at the Provincial Tournament in 2011. Steph Mock (Cape Coral, Fla.), an Under-18 USA National Team summer games participant in 2009, was the leading scorer at 2006 Nationals and MVP for Team Florida.

Kelsey Summers (West Bloomfield, Mich.), who was All-MWEHL and assistant captain with Little Caesars last year, could see time at forward or on defense.

DEFENSE

Senior Heather Grant follows in the strides of some great defensemen from her first three years at Yale, and the Bulldogs will now rely on her for veteran leadership for this group. Her 82 games played place her behind only Hughes (87) and Davis (84) in terms of experience, and her slap shot makes her an option for generating offense. She finished last season with three goals and seven assists.

The junior class provides the bulk of Yale's defensemen. Emily DesMeules has 52 games of experience and has incurred just eight penalties. Jamie Gray has 56 games of experience, including six assists. Tara Tomimoto is a player that the Bulldogs missed sorely for the final 12 games of last season; in the games that she was healthy for, she had a goal and four assists while displaying the skills to go coast-to-coast with the puck.

Natalie Wedell has been the Bulldogs' "do-everything" type over the past couple years, including a stint as emergency goaltender and some time both at forward and on defense. She has just three penalties in 52 career games.

Sophomore Aurora Kennedy (no relation to Lynn Kennedy) is another player whose season was cut short by injury, as she missed the final 10 games. She had just scored her first career goal two games before her injury, and was seeing regular ice time as one of Yale's top blueliners.

Freshman Madi Murray (Medicine Hat, Alta.) joins two other Edge School graduates on the Yale roster (Gray and Matichuk). She won the Under-18 National Championship with Shattuck-St. Mary's in 2008-09, and has been part of Team Alberta's Under-18 Top 46.

GOALIES

With the graduation of record-setting Jackee Snikeris '11, the Bulldogs are looking for someone to emerge to keep up the tradition of goaltending greatness at Yale. There are multiple candidates.

Senior Genny Ladiges has bided her time patiently for three years behind Snikeris, filling in admirably whenever needed. She has appeared in 72 career games, posting a .909 save percentage.

Junior Erin Callahan made the most of her opportunities last year, including a memorable 32-save effort in relief of an injured Snikeris at Harvard that helped the Bulldogs pull out a 3-3 tie.

Freshman Jaimie Leonoff (Montreal, Que.) has an impressive resume that includes selection for Hockey Canada's recent Under-22/Development Team Camp. She also earned a bronze medal at the Canada Games with the Team Quebec Under-18 team.

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

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