April 28, 2010

Seniors Honored at Annual Women’s Hockey Banquet

Snikeris Named Most Valuable Player Again

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale held its annual women's hockey team banquet Wednesday Apr. 21 in the Schley Room at Ingalls Rink, saluting the senior class of defenseman Alyssa Clarke (Donkin, N.S.), forward Berit Johnson (Wayzata, Minn.) and forward Caroline Murphy (Woodstock, Conn.). The team also presented its annual awards. The MVP award, as selected by a team vote, went to junior goaltender Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.).

This is the second year in a row Snikeris has won the MVP award, as she shared it last year with Crysti Howser '09 and Helen Resor '09. Snikeris, who was a first team All-Ivy League selection this year, was a nominee for the Kazmaier Award as the top women's college hockey player. Her save percentage of .927 placed her 10th in the country. She broke the Yale career record for shutouts with her 13th -- in just her 49th career game. Her four shutouts for the year also include a 1-0 blanking of St. Lawrence that gave the Bulldogs their first win over the Saints in history (they had been 0-35-1). With one season to go Snikeris is on pace to break the Yale career goals-against average record (she is at 2.16) and finish second on Yale's all-time save percentage list (she is at .927).

Prior to Yale, Snikeris played for Taft and the Connecticut Polar Bears. A history of science/history of medicine major who plans to go to medical school, she is in Branford College at Yale.

Past recipients of the MVP award, which has been awarded since 1977-78, include some of the most decorated players in Yale women's ice hockey history. Kazmaier Award finalist and All-American goalie Laurie Belliveau '98 won it four times and all-time leading scorer Maria Dennis '88 won it twice.

Several other individual awards were handed out. In keeping with a tradition started last year, players presented each other with the awards, opening an envelope to reveal the winner instead of having the coach read the winners off. Freshman forward Danielle Moncion (Round Lake Center, Ont.) presented the MVP Award to Snikeris.

Clarke won the Bingham Award for leadership, which was presented by freshman defenseman Jamie Gray (Calgary, Alta.). Clarke, an honorable mention All-Ivy League selection and a nominee for the NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge, was part of Yale's top defensive pair all season long. One of the team's best penalty killers, she also scored three goals had six assists. Clarke missed just three games in four years, and totaled 12 goals and 28 assists for 40 points.

Prior to Yale, Clarke attended Ridley College and played for Team Nova Scotia. An economics major, she is a member of Branford College.

Junior defenseman Samantha MacLean (Mississauga, Ont.) won the Wendy Blanning Award as the team's most improved player, which was presented by freshman goaltender Erin Callahan (Kenilworth, Ill.). MacLean, who has been elected captain for the 2010-11 season, has been one of Yale's most reliable defensemen since her freshman season. She brings a streak of 89 consecutive games played into the 2010-11 campaign. This past year she combined with Clarke as Yale's top defensive pair and part of Yale's top penalty-killing unit. She led the team in +/- with a +5 and also showed the ability to contribute offensively when needed. She finished with a career-high four goals and nine points, including the game-winning goal with 33 seconds left in Yale's 4-3 win over RPI at Ingalls Rink Jan. 16. She also had a goal and an assist, and a +3 rating, in Yale's 3-1 win vs. Colgate Feb. 12.

MacLean is an economics major in Silliman College. Prior to Yale, she attended Holy Name of Mary Catholic Secondary School.

The Blanning Award is named in honor of Wendy Blanning '78, who died as she was about to enter her junior year. It was established by her teammates and first awarded in 1977-78 to Alice Warner '81.

Sophomore forward Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.) won the Bulldog Award for team spirit, which was presented by the 2009 winner, sophomore forward Lauren Davis (Morrison, Colo.). The Bulldog Award dates back to 1996-97, when Amanda Adams '97 earned it. Adams had been diagnosed with Hodgkins' disease, a form of cancer, as a freshman but recovered and completed the rest of her Yale career after receiving chemotherapy.

Hughes finished second on the team in goals (nine) and points (17). She has played in every game for each of the last two seasons, and has more goals in that span (16) than anyone on the team other than junior forward Bray Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.).

Prior to Yale, Hughes attended Hotchkiss and played for the Connecticut Stars. Hughes is an American studies major in Berkeley College.

Ketchum received the Coaches' Award for an exemplary work ethic, attitude and commitment to the core values of the Yale Women's Ice Hockey program, which was presented by head coach Hilary Witt.

A second team All-Ivy League pick and a nominee for the Kazmaier Award, Ketchum led Yale in goals (12), power-play goals (5) and points (23) and tied for the team lead in assists (11). She had seven multiple-point games and three different scoring streaks of four or more straight games. She was called for just four penalties all season.

Ketchum has 34 career goals, 32 career assists and 66 career points, more than any other player on Yale's roster. She is already in the top 18 on Yale's all-time lists in all of those categories, and is on pace to finish sixth all-time in goals. She tied for the team lead in goals in 2007-08 (13), was second in points (24), and was a second team All-Ivy League selection.

Prior to Yale, Ketchum played for Greenwich Academy and the Connecticut Stars. She was a four-time USA Hockey player development camp selection. An American studies major, she is a member of Davenport College.

The Coaches' Award was established in 2003-04.

Yale also introduced a new award, the Richard H. Brodhead '68 Award, which is given to the player who “over the course of her career, has contributed significantly to the success of the team while excelling academically.” Witt presented this award, named after the former Dean of Yale College, to Johnson.

Johnson was Yale's nominee for the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year Award, which she also was recognized for at the banquet. A four-time ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection, Johnson has balanced the demands of double-majoring in economics and history while also being a consistent contributor on the ice and in the community. Also an AWHCA All-Academic Team selection, she played in 116 out of a possible 120 games for her career and totaled 25 points on six goals and 19 assists.

Johnson's community service work has been extensive. She has been a regular participant in Yale's annual "Relay for Life" American Cancer Society fund-raiser, has served as a tutor at a New Haven elementary school and has provided counseling to disadvantaged youths at a local high school interested in applying to college her junior year.  She was her team's liaison for the Yale Athletics Department's Thomas W. Ford '42 Community Outreach Program, coordinating activities such as buying holiday gifts for disadvantaged families, volunteering at a shelter, and teaching sports skills to local youths as part of Yale Athletics' annual "Youth Days". She also has done a significant amount of work back home in Minnesota -- most recently with MicroGrants, a non-profit organization that provides grants to disadvantaged individuals who are facing obstacles but are motivated to improve their economic status.

Prior to Yale, Johnson attended the Blake School. Her sister, Kelsey Johnson '07, also played for Yale.

In addition to the presentation of the awards, the night included several other highlights. After dinner, Johnson and freshman forward Alyssa Zupon (Basking Ridge, N.J.) got the ceremonies started with a special version of the song “Hey There Delilah” written featuring new lyrics just for Yale women's hockey, with Johnson on lead vocals and Zupon playing the guitar.

After that, MacLean was introduced as next season's captain. She was elected by a team vote last month. She ceremoniously accepted the gavel from Murphy, the outgoing captain. Murphy took advantage of her last chance to address the team by saying “thank you.”

“All the girls before me right now, we've been through so much: ups and downs, locker room jokes, overtime wins and losses and personal struggles,” Murphy said. “We've been shoulder-to-shoulder and side-by-side through it all.”

The presentation of the team awards then followed. The ceremonies continued with the players giving gifts to the coaches and support staff. That included a special presentation to Ed Maturo, who is retiring after more than three decades as Yale's equipment manager. The team gave him a signed jersey and team photo.

Witt then reviewed the season.

“With eight freshmen replacing eight graduating seniors [from the Class of 2009], there was definitely a learning curve,” Witt said. “We went up to Ithaca and Hamilton in December [tying Cornell and beating Colgate] and started to turn it around. After a 1-7 start in league play we went 6-1-1 in the next eight games, and continued to battle for a playoff spot to the end. The improvements this team made were amazing and will continue to benefit us for a long time to come.”

Witt gave credit to the senior class for helping to establish the tone for the program's future.

“They have battled through so many ups and downs throughout their career,” Witt said. “They deserve credit for making so many changes in the culture of this program. They were leaders in the weight room, especially last year when we were in there at 8 a.m.  They knew how important that Spring was … Every time they faced a challenge they met it head-on. They will always be a part of this Yale Hockey family.”

The night concluded with a showing of the 2009-10 season highlight video.

On everyone's mind was junior forward Mandi Schwartz (Wilcox, Sask.), who had just been diagnosed with leukemia for the second time. Schwartz is heading back home Thursday morning to start receiving treatment. She and her teammates posed for a photo at the end of the evening. The team is currently seeking a marrow or cord blood donor for her. For more information, visit http://www.yalebulldogs.com/mandi/

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