Leads Bulldogs into 38th Varsity Season
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Junior defenseman Aurora Kennedy (Mississauga, Ont.) has been elected captain of the Yale women's ice hockey team for the 2014-15 season. Kennedy was selected by a team vote Wednesday Mar. 26, and was introduced formally at the team's post-season banquet Friday Mar. 28 in the Schley Room at Ingalls Rink.
"Being voted captain by my teammates can only be described as an honor," said Kennedy. "There are so many incredible leaders in our program, both past and present, from whom I have learned so much and I am excited to pay it forward."
Kennedy's road to the captaincy was also acknowledged in another form on Friday, as she earned the Coaches' Award. That honor is given by the coaching staff based on work ethic, attitude and commitment to the core values of the Yale women's ice hockey program.
The development that Kennedy showed on and off the ice in earning the captaincy and the Coaches' Award came about after she had to overcome adversity earlier in her career. She missed all of 2011-12 with an injury and was limited to 20 games in 2012-13. This past season she returned to the ice to play in all 32 games, a career high. She also had career highs in assists and points (0-12-12). She tied for third on the team in assists and finished second on the team with a +5 rating.
Kennedy's career-best offensive numbers were part of a larger trend that saw Yale enjoy one of its best seasons in recent memory while also setting the stage for further progress in the near future. The team scored 51 goals in ECAC Hockey games this year -- the most since the team scored 72 goals in conference games in 2006-07. 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).
Kennedy cited the leadership of the team's 2013-14 captain, senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto (Calgary, Alta.), when discussing the strides the team has made.
"Throughout my time on the Yale Women's Ice Hockey team, there have been dramatic changes in the program's history," said Kennedy. "This past season we went beyond the expectations that others had set for us, but with the leadership of Tara we always knew it was attainable. I am eager to be able to play a part in leading this team into another very competitive season after making such great strides this past year towards establishing a winning culture within the team. With the program's returning players and the new recruits, our team is primed to challenge for an ECAC Hockey title and an Ivy Championship."
The Bulldogs return all of their goalies, and all but one defenseman, next season. This past year Kennedy helped the Yale defense cut its goals allowed per game to 2.94, the best average in three years.
This past season the Bulldogs also posted their best winning percentage in conference games (.432) since 2007-08. 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 (including a double overtime loss in game two), falling one goal shy of the program's second appearance at the ECAC Hockey semifinals.
Kennedy was originally a member of the Class of 2014 but plans to return to play one more season for Yale next year while earning her degree. Her fellow juniors returning next season are goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (Montréal, Qué.), forward Stephanie Mock (Cape Coral, Fla.), defenseman Madi Murray (Medicine Hat, Alta.) and forward Jackie Raines (London, Ont.).
"We have a hard working and dedicated group of players returning next year and with the help of our strength coach we have been hard at work in the weight room to help us improve our strength, stamina and speed to reach our goals for next season," said Kennedy. "Our improvement is already evident and I am proud of the work ethic we have shown in the beginning of our training and am certain that we will be a very competitive and successful team next year. We are very fortunate to have so many returning players next year and I am excited to help integrate the new recruits into our solid core."
Kennedy leads Yale into its 38th varsity season in 2014-15. An environmental studies major in Berkeley College, she earned ECAC Hockey All-Academic honors last year. Her sister, Whitney, played for Harvard.
Prior to Yale Kennedy attended St. Mildred's Lightbourn and played for the Toronto Junior Aeros, where she won Provincials and the PWHL championship in 2010. She attended the Hockey Canada Under-18 strength and conditioning camp in May 2009, and the Hockey Canada Under-18 selection camp in July of 2009. She also played on Team Ontario – Blue, earning a silver medal at the Under-18 National Championship in 2009.
At St. Mildred's Lightbourn Kennedy captained the team and was named MVP while also earning Toronto Star Regional Athlete of the Year. She was on the Academic Honor Roll from eighth grade through 12th grade and traveled to Melbourne, Australia, to teach fourth graders.
Kennedy is the second Yale captain from Mississauga, joining Samantha MacLean '11 (the 2010-11 team captain).
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity