November 14, 2007

Witt Inducted Into Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame

Nov. 14, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale head coach Hilary Witt was inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday night. It is the second Hall of Fame Witt has been inducted into in the last two years.

The 13th Annual induction ceremony was held at Lombardo's in Randolph, Mass. Joining Witt in the class of 2007 were legendary Bruin and NHL Hall of Famer John Bucyk; Needham's Cap Raeder; and Wakefield's Bobby Wheeler. Also inducted were coaching legends Buddy Ferriera and Garrett Reagan; referee Bob Barry; and grassroots contributors Tony Lucci and Dick Gunn.

A 2001 graduate of Northeastern, Witt was inducted into the Huskies' Hall of Fame in 2005. She led the team in goals (30), assists (24) and points (54) as a senior in 1999-2000. She earned her third Patty Kazmaier Award finalist spot that year and was ranked among the top 10 scorers in the ECAC in all offensive categories. During the year, Witt was invited to play for the United States Select Team but turned down the honor because she felt a captain should not desert her team in the middle of the season. She led the Huskies in scoring in three of her four seasons and finished her career as Northeastern's all-time leader in goals and points (113-94-207) in 139 games. During her four-year career Northeastern went 100-31-11 and made the post-season every year, including an ECAC championship in 1996-97. Witt was named tournament MVP that year.

Witt is in her seventh season at Yale, and sixth as head coach, having overseen a historic turnaround in the program. The team's 63 wins in her first five seasons as head coach are one more than Yale had in the 13 seasons prior to her arrival combined. Yale has made the ECAC playoffs for seven straight seasons with her on the staff. Last year's squad broke the school record for goals in a season with 96 and finished with the second-most wins in school history, 15. The Bulldogs also claimed their first Nutmeg Classic championship, besting UConn and Quinnipiac in the annual tournament of rivals from Connecticut.

Witt joined the Bulldogs as an assistant coach in 2001-02 before moving up to the head coach role the following season. She was named ECAC Women's Coach of the Year in 2002-03, leading Yale to what was then a school-record five conference wins. In 2003-04 the Bulldogs broke that mark with eight wins and tied the school record for overall wins (12) -- marks that fell again the following year. The 2004-05 squad set the school record for overall wins (16) and conference wins (12), earning a trip to the ECAC semifinals for the first time in history. With Yale's 3-0 win over Vermont on Feb. 19, 2005, Witt became Yale's all-time leader in coaching wins.

During Witt's time Yale has had two NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge selections, three NEHWA Division I All-Star team selections, one first team All-ECAC selection, three second team All-ECAC selections and three ECAC All-Rookie selections. Last year, the team as a whole earned the ECAC's Turfer Award for sportsmanship.

The Bulldogs have also maintained a standard of academic excellence under Witt, placing a league-record 19 players on the ECAC All-Academic Team in 2006-07. Yale has had a total of 48 ECAC All-Academic honorees in Witt's five years as head coach. The Bulldogs also had a finalist for the inaugural ECAC Student-Athlete of the Year Award last year (Kelsey Johnson '07). Yale has had a pair of AWHCA All-Academic selections in each of the last two years along with two Academic All-Ivy League selections in the last three years.

In addition to academic excellence the Bulldogs have also been heavily involved in community service during Witt's tenure, participating in numerous fund-raisers and events with local youths. Last year Kristin Savard '07 won the Hockey Humanitarian Award and was honored in a ceremony at the NCAA men's ice hockey Frozen Four for founding "Teaming Up," a charity designed to raise funds and awareness for maternal health issues in South Africa. Savard and Erika Hockinson '04 both earned Yale's Thomas W. Ford '42 Community Outreach Award under Witt's watch.

Witt has also helped expand Yale hockey's presence on the international level. Witt, who spent time with the U.S. Women's National Team during her senior year at Northeastern, earned a pair of silver medals as an assistant coach for the U.S. squad at the 2006 Four Nations Cup and the 2007 IIHF World Championship. One of the players on Team USA for both of those events was junior defenseman Helen Resor, who achieved a milestone when she was selected to play for Team USA in the 2006 Olympics. Resor was the first Bulldog to achieve that status, and when she won a bronze medal she became the first Yale hockey player of either gender to earn a medal since five Bulldog men won silver with Team USA in 1932.

Witt has coached at numerous USA Hockey camps, including this past summer's Girls' Select 17/18 Player Development Camp in Lake Placid. Resor, junior forward Crysti Howser and forward Sheila Zingler '07 gave the Bulldogs three players at the 2007 USA Hockey Women's National Festival, meaning that the 2006-07 Yale team tied for the most representatives at the camp among all ECAC Hockey schools.

A communications major at NU, Witt graduated from Canton (Mass.) High School in 1996.

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

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