Team Banquet Wraps Up 2013-14 Season
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The 2013-14 Yale women's ice hockey team gathered in the Schley Room at Ingalls Rink on Friday Mar. 28 for the annual team banquet. The Bulldogs announced the winners of the six team awards, honoring junior defenseman Aurora Kennedy (Mississauga, Ont.), junior goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (Montréal, Qué.), junior defenseman Madi Murray (Medicine Hat, Alta.), junior forward Jackie Raines (London, Ont.) and senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto (Calgary, Alta.) (Tomimoto won two awards). The Bulldogs also introduced Kennedy as the 2014-15 team captain.
In addition to being introduced as captain Kennedy earned the Coaches' Award, given by the staff based on work ethic, attitude and commitment to the core values of the Yale women's ice hockey program. This past season, after missing all of 2011-12 with an injury and being limited to 20 games in 2012-13, Kennedy played in all 32 games. She had career highs in assists and points (0-12-12) and finished second on the team with a +5 rating.
An environmental studies major in Berkeley College, Kennedy was originally a member of the Class of 2014 but plans to return to play one more season for Yale next year. Prior to Yale she attended St. Mildred's Lightbourn and played for the Toronto Junior Aeros.
For the second straight year the MVP award went to Leonoff, who enjoyed another stellar season. She made 1,053 saves, placing second on Yale's single-season list (behind Laurie Belliveau '98's 1,321 saves in 1996-97). Her .924 save percentage was seventh-best in Yale history, and her 2.69 save percentage was 13th. She made 40 or more saves in a game eight times, including a pair of 50+-save efforts in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals at then-No. 5 Harvard.
Leonoff is second on Yale's career save percentage list (.916), fourth on Yale's career goals-against average list (3.18) and fifth on Yale's career saves list (2,312).
A member of Jonathan Edwards College, Leonoff attended Pomfret and played for Detroit Belle Tire before coming to Yale. She has attended multiple Hockey Canada camps, including the National Women's Development Team Selection Camp in August of 2013.
The Wendy Blanning Award, given to the most improved player on the team, went to Murray. She appeared in a career-high 32 games this season, posting a career-best +4 (tied for third on the team). She had a pair of assists, both coming in games vs. nationally ranked teams. She also improved her penalty minutes from 40 in 2012-13 to 16 this past year.
The award is named after Wendy Blanning '78 (1956-76), who died as she was about to enter her junior year. It was established by her teammates.
An anthropology member of Trumbull College, Murray attended Edge School before coming to Yale. She won the Under-18 National Championship with Shattuck-St. Mary's in 2008-09.
Raines earned the Mandi Schwartz Award, given for courage, grit and determination. That award is named after Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011), the Bulldog center whose battle with cancer has inspired countless people.
Raines was sidelined for the entire 2012-13 season by an injury, but made her return to the ice this past January. Her comeback was nearly derailed by another injury in just her fourth game back, but after missing four games she returned to the ice and played through that injury for the remaining 11 games. She wound up tied for second on the team with 10 goals -- and fifth on the team with 16 points -- despite being limited to 15 games. She also incurred only one penalty.
Raines had the game-winning goals in two of Yale's biggest wins of the season: the 2-0 win at Harvard Jan. 11 that represented the Bulldogs' first win at Harvard since 1981 (and its first shutout of Harvard since 1980), and the 5-3 win at Princeton Feb. 15 that clinched a spot in the ECAC Hockey playoffs for the Bulldogs -- their first playoff appearance since 2008.
An environmental studies major in Davenport College, Raines attended Oakridge Secondary School and played for the London Devilettes before coming to Yale.
Tomimoto, Yale's captain, won a pair of awards. She won the team's Bingham Award for leadership because of her contributions on and off the ice. She also won Yale's Richard H. Brodhead '68 Award, given to the player "who has contributed significantly to the success of the team while excelling academically", for the second year in a row. An economics major, Tomimoto has a 3.78 grade-point average and was a finalist for ECAC Hockey's Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete of the Year Award.
As a freshman in 2009-10 Tomimoto emerged as one of Yale's top defenders, appearing in 26 games and totaling 10 points (3-7-10). But midway through her sophomore year, a concussion brought her season to an end after just 17 games. She remained sidelined through the 2011-12 season.
Tomimoto was able to return for the 2012-13 season, and ever since then she has been a key part of a turnaround in the program as a whole. She appeared in all 29 games in 2012-13, leading the team in assists and finishing second in points. This past season she played in all 32 games and tied for third on the team with 12 assists. She ended her career 19th on Yale's career assists list (36).
Tomimoto has excelled in the classroom throughout her time at Yale, earning three ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team honors. While majoring in economics, she was accepted into the Yale Energy Studies Program that requires students to complete a concentration of energy-related courses.
Tomimoto -- who lost one of her friends from high school to cancer in 2011 -- and her Yale teammates have organized multiple marrow donor registration drives. The annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale (held on Apr. 17 this year) has added close to 4,000 potential marrow donors to the Be The Match registry, and located at least 23 donor matches for patients with life-threatening illnesses. Last year Tomimoto coordinated a social media campaign for the drive, and that helped add more than 800 new potential donors to the Be The Match registry. The women's ice hockey team has also hosted a "White Out for Mandi" fundraiser game, which raises funds for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, in each of the past four seasons. The most recent "White Out for Mandi" raised more than $30,000, and Tomimoto was responsible for coordinating the design and purchase of the white sweatshirts that the team sold as part of the fundraising efforts.
Tomimoto's community service efforts also include organizing a "learn to skate" clinic that she and one of her Yale teammates started this year to help introduce New Haven girls to hockey and nutrition. She earned the Amy Rossborough Fellowship through Yale's Women's Center for this initiative.
Tomimoto's other campus activities include the Yale Undergraduate Energy Club, where -- as activities director -- she has organized weekly speakers for the club since last spring. She is also in the Pi Beta Phi sorority, where she served as head of the Gear Committee and was selected to the Leading with Values Committee.
Tomimoto, a member of Calhoun College, attended West Island College and played for the Calgary Bruins before coming to Yale.
All the team award winners helped Yale make the type of progress this season that bodes well for next season and beyond. The team scored 51 goals in ECAC Hockey games this year -- the most for Yale since 2006-07, when the team scored 72 goals in conference games. Of those 51 goals in conference games this year, 48 came from juniors, sophomores and freshmen -- meaning that the Bulldogs have more conference goals returning next year than all but two ECAC Hockey teams (Cornell has 58 goals returning from this year, Harvard has 55). The Bulldogs also return all of their goalies, and all but one defenseman.
The Bulldogs also posted their best winning percentage in conference games (.432) since 2007-08 this past season. In addition to making their first ECAC Hockey Championship playoff appearance since 2008, they earned their first postseason win since 2005 with a 3-2 double overtime win at then-No. 5 Harvard Feb. 28 in game one of the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs eventually lost the series two games to one, falling one goal shy of the program's second appearance at the ECAC Hockey semifinals.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (email@example.com), Yale Sports Publicity