June 25, 2008

Team USA's Olympic Training Center Bustling with Bulldogs

June 25, 2008

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - Team USA's Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., has some extra Blue to go along with the Red and White this week. A pair of Bulldogs -- rising senior forward Crysti Howser (Wilmette, Ill.) and rising sophomore goaltender Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.) -- are taking part in USA Hockey's Under-22 camp. Also in town is Yale head coach Hilary Witt, who is serving as an assistant coach at USA Hockey's Girls' Select 17 player development camp.

Howser and Snikeris are part of a group of 34 players vying for 22 spots on the roster for the U.S. U-22 Select Team that will take on Canada's U-22 team in August. Yale is one of only eight schools in the country to have multiple players selected for the camp.

Howser, who turns 21 in August, is one of 18 forwards attending the camp. She was on the U.S. U-22 Select Team for the three-game series against Canada last year. Her previous experience with USA Hockey includes a stint at the 2006 National Festival. She also participated in USA Hockey's Girls' Select 17/18 Festival in 2005, tying for the scoring lead with four goals and three assists in five games.

Howser has led Yale in points in each of her first three years, and the 22 goals she scored in 2006-07 place her tied for third on Yale's single-season list. She is tied for fourth on Yale's career goals list (44), is seventh on Yale's career points list (92) and is tied for eight on Yale's career assists list (48). She was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection last year.

Snikeris, who turns 20 in November, is the youngest of the four goalies invited to the U-22 camp. She is coming off an impressive freshman campaign for the Bulldogs, having set the school record for single-season goals-against average (2.18) and posted the fourth-best single-season save percentage in school history (.921). A five time USA Hockey player development camp pick, she was honorable mention All-Ivy and an ECAC Hockey All-Academic selection.

The week-long U-22 camp began June 24. Among those attending are six members of the U.S. Women's National Team that captured the gold medal at the recently completed 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Championship. Ohio State head coach Jackie Barto, who guided the U.S. Women's National Team to the gold medal, is the head coach of the U.S. U-22 Select Team.

The 22 players chosen to the U.S. U-22 Select Team roster will go back to Lake Placid Aug. 12 for USA Hockey's Women's National Festival, then will compete in the Under-22 Series against Canada Aug. 20-23.

The Girls' Select 17 camp that Witt is coaching at features the top 17-year old players in the country receiving on- and off-ice training and instruction from coaches at all levels of the game. Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson is the camp director. Witt, who is entering her seventh year as head coach and eighth year overall at Yale, has been involved in many USA Hockey camps in the past, including last summer's Girls' Select 17/18 camp. Witt played on the U.S. National Team in 2000-01 and was an assistant coach for Johnson with the U.S. team in 2006-07, earning a silver medal at the 2007 IIHF World Championship.

Yale has an extensive history with U.S. women's national teams. Rising senior defenseman Helen Resor (Greenwich, Conn.), who was on the U.S. U-22 Select Team from 2003-2005, played for the U.S. in the 2006 Olympics and has also played for the U.S. in two IIHF Women's World Championships. Former Yale men's hockey assistant coach Ben Smith coached Team USA at the Olympics three times, winning a gold medal in 1998, and now serves as a national team advisor. Forward Maria Dennis '88 was on the 1990 U.S. Women's National Team, and goaltender Laurie Belliveau '98 was on the 1999 U.S. Women's National Team.

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

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