October 3, 2013

Bulldogs Look to Keep Progressing in 2013-14

Fourth Season under Flygh Starts Oct. 19 at BC

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The 2013-14 Yale women's ice hockey season gets underway shortly, with an exhibition game vs. McGill at Ingalls Rink this Saturday and the regular season opener Saturday, Oct. 19 at BC. The Bulldogs enter their fourth season under head coach Joakim Flygh looking to continue climbing up the ECAC Hockey standings in order to challenge for one of the league's eight playoff spots. The team's starting goaltender and top five scorers all return from last year, when the team increased its scoring by 35 percent over the previous season. That list of returnees includes senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto, who captains Yale in its 37th varsity season.

Here is a position-by-position look at the team:

 

FORWARDS

Three senior forwards give the Bulldogs veteran leadership. Paige Decker, one of Yale's fastest skaters, has appeared in every game each of the last two seasons. Last year she scored the first two goals of her career. Ashley Dunbar also played in every game, contributing three points while committing just one penalty. Patricia McGauley, who had a streak of 52 straight penalty-free games, had a career high in points a year ago (2-2-4).

Junior Lynn Kennedy was sidelined until mid-January with an injury, but came back to chip in five points (2-3-5) in 12 games last year. One of the Bulldogs' hardest workers, she provides much-needed leadership. Classmate Stephanie Mock was second on the team in assists and third in points (3-8-11) two years ago and added two goals and three assists in 23 games last year.  

The sophomore class includes a trio of players with great potential. Hanna Åström appeared in every game, showcasing a powerful shot while contributing seven points (2-5-7). Janelle Ferrara missed one game with an injury but still finished tied for second on the team in goals and tied for third in points (6-6-12). She had the team's lone hat trick, scoring three times vs. Dartmouth. Her former Assabet Valley teammate Jamie Haddad led Yale in goals and tied for third on the team in points (7-5-12) – with all of her points coming in conference games. Haddad also led the team in power play goals with five and game-winning goals with two.

The Bulldogs are excited about the talent in the class of freshman forwards. Phoebe Staenz (Zurich, Switzerland) was the Division 1 Player of the Year in girls' prep school hockey at Choate Rosemary Hall last year, and has already made an impact on the International stage. Staenz has played for Switzerland in each of the past three Women's World Championships, and the Bulldogs are already planning to be without her services midway through this season -- when she will likely be playing in the Olympics. Gretchen Tarrant (Colchester, Vt.) was a five-time New England All Star Festival selection and two-time team captain who scored 101 career points in high school. Krista Yip-Chuck (Whitby, Ont.) captained Team Ontario Blue to gold at the Under-18 Canadian National Championships in 2013. She was also the PWHL scoring champion in 2012-2013, totaling 65 points in 38 games.

 

DEFENSE

Tomimoto, Yale's captain, returns to lead the team on and off the ice. Last season she led the team in assists and finished second on the team in points (2-12-14). Her performance was all the more impressive considering that she missed the 2011-12 season -- and the final 12 games of her sophomore season -- with an injury.

Senior Aurora Kennedy (no relation to Lynn Kennedy) also made a major comeback last season, returning to the ice after missing all of the previous season and the final 10 games of her freshman season due to injury. She tied for third on the team in assists with six.

Junior Madi Murray appeared in all 29 games last season, contributing three assists. She comes from a family with deep roots in the hockey world (her three sisters all play, her uncle Andy Murray coached in the NHL and her cousin Sara Murray played at Minnesota-Duluth while Flygh was an assistant coach there).

Two sophomore defensemen look to make contributions. Ali Austin was sidelined for all but two games of her freshman year. Having attended multiple USA Hockey player development camps, she should emerge as a contributor for the Bulldogs once healthy. Kate Martini led the team in points, was second on the team in assists and was tied for second in goals (6-10-16). She was usually paired with Tomimoto, putting Yale's two biggest offensive threats from the blue line on the ice at the same time. Martini was the first pure defenseman to lead Yale in scoring since Lukey MacMullen '84 in 1983-84 (10-12-22).

The freshman class includes defensemen Abby Gahm (Eagle River, Alaska) and Taylor Marchin (Algonac, Mich.). Both have attended multiple USA Hockey camps. Gahm was part of a highly successful run for Team Pittsburgh -- while she was there the team was 2011 Mid-Am District Champions, 2012 Silversticks International Midget AA Champions, 2012 Mid-Am District Champions and third place in the 2012 National Tournament. Marchin earned a gold medal with Assabet Valley at the 2013 USA Hockey National Championships.

 

GOALIES

Junior Jaimie Leonoff began re-writing the Yale record book last season, and looks to continue doing so in 2013-14 and beyond. Her 2012-13 honors included a second team All-Ivy League selection and the team MVP award. She was a major reason why the Bulldogs made dramatic improvements as compared to their 2011-12 season. She raised her save percentage from .865 to .925 (the sixth-best in school history) while lowering her goals-against average from 6.55 to 2.83. Her save percentage ranked 15th in the country, and it was 16 percentage points away from the Yale record (.941 by Jackee Snikeris '11 in 2010-11).

Leonoff was also fourth in the country in saves (944). That total placed her fourth on Yale's single-season record list, trailing only three totals posted by Laurie Belliveau '98 (including the school record, 1,321 saves in 1996-97).

Leonoff was particularly proficient at home, averaging 36.2 saves per game at Ingalls Rink (33.5 on the road). She also got better as the season wore on, posting a .933 save percentage and a 2.37 goals-against average from the start of December through the end of the year.

In addition to her own stats, Leonoff also helped backstop a Yale penalty kill unit that ended the season killing off 39 of the last 40 penalties.

This past offseason Leonoff earned multiple invites to Hockey Canada camps, including the National Women's Development Team Camp.

There is also depth behind Leonoff on Yale's roster. Sophomore Rachelle Graham earned the team's Wendy Blanning Award as the most improved player last season. Freshman Hanna Mandl (Nobleton, Ont.) helped the Brampton Jr. Thunder to the finals at the Union College Showcase in 2012. 

SCHEDULE

Yale will test itself against some of the nation's best this season. Games against the top four teams in the country in the final 2012-13 national poll -- including a pair against defending NCAA champion Minnesota at Ingalls Rink -- highlight the 2013-14 schedule. Yale is scheduled to play 10 games against teams that made the NCAA tournament and were ranked in the top eight in the national poll at the end of the year.

The games vs. No. 1 Minnesota on Nov. 23 and 24 mark the first time in Yale's history that the Bulldogs face a team that is the reigning NCAA champion. The Gophers have won the last two NCAA championships, and bring an NCAA record 49-game winning streak into the 2013-14 season.

The Bulldogs open the regular season Oct. 19 at No. 3 Boston College and start ECAC Hockey play Nov. 1 at No. 7 Clarkson. The first regular season home game is Nov. 8 vs. Princeton.

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

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