Bulldogs Start Joakim Flygh Era at Vermont this Weekend
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With a large freshman class and a new head coach, the Yale women's ice hockey team enters the 2010-11 season with a growing sense of excitement. Joakim Flygh takes over the reins after six seasons as an assistant coach for the women's teams at Harvard and Minnesota-Duluth, including five NCAA Tournament appearances. Yale opens the Flygh era with a pair of games at Vermont, Friday and Saturday.
Here is a position-by-position look at the team:
Senior Bray Ketchum is Yale's top returning scorer (12-11-23), and with another 20-point season she would move up to No. 11 on the school's career point list. She was selected to USA Hockey's Under-22 Select Team this past summer. Classmate Lili Rudis, who can play defense or forward, has battled injuries throughout her career but looks to have a productive senior season. Mandi Schwartz was planning to return to play this season, but her battle with leukemia now has her in Seattle recovering from a stem cell transplant. She remains an inspiration from afar for her Yale teammates.
The junior forwards include Lauren Davis and Aleca Hughes. Davis, who has played 57 games in her career, picked up just four penalties in 29 games last year. Hughes was second on the team in scoring (9-8-17), her second straight season in Yale's top four.
Yale will look to its sophomore forwards for even more offense after a freshman season where each showed potential. Jen Matichuk finished strong in the final 13 games, notching her first career goal and assist while posting a +3 rating with only three penalties. Danielle Moncion scored one of the biggest goals in Yale history, the game-winner that beat St. Lawrence 1-0 for Yale's first win ever against the Saints. She finished tied for third on the team in assists (2-8-10). Alyssa Zupon took over as center on Yale's top line midway through the year and finished tied for the team lead in assists and third in points (5-11-16).
The Bulldogs have a large group of freshman forwards, and they bring impressive credentials. Jenna Ciotti (Manotick, Ont.) was Team Ontario Blue's leading scorer last year, and won a silver medal at the U-18 National Championships with that team in 2009. Paige Decker (New Preston, Conn.) captained both the Connecticut Polar Bears and Westminster School last season, leading her high school team in points (30). Ashley Dunbar (Hillsborough, N.J.) was a four-time all-state selection at Lawrenceville, where her team was ranked No. 1 in the state for four consecutive seasons. Jennifer Lawrence (Toronto, Ont.) captained both the Durham Junior Lightning and Havergal College last season, leading both teams in points. Patricia McGauley (Wilcox, Sask.) was captain and two-time MVP with the Regina Rebels, leading the team in scoring. Jackie Raines (London, Ont.) captained the London Devilettes and Oakridge Secondary School, leading her high school team in goals and assists for two straight years. She made the leap from bantam straight to junior hockey at the age of 15, becoming one of the youngest players in the PWHL.
Captain Samantha MacLean leads a group that returns all but one player from last season. MacLean, along with Bray Ketchum, has played more games than any other Bulldog (89) and provides leadership by example along with a hard slap shot.
Junior blue liner Heather Grant has 55 games of experience and has contributed three goals and five assists. Three sophomores -- Emily DesMeules, Jamie Gray and Tara Tomimoto -- all saw significant action at the blue line last season. Tomimoto finished tied for second on the team with eight assists, and she and Gray frequently worked together as a defensive pair. DesMeules had only three penalties in 27 games. That class of sophomore defenders also includes Natalie Wedell now, as she spent most of last season as a forward.
Yale only has one freshman defenseman, but she is capable of contributing immediately. Aurora Kennedy won Provincials and a PWHL league championship with the Toronto Junior Aeros in 2010. She had 35 points in 62 games, along with +71 plus/minus.
The Bulldogs enjoy one more season with the services of senior Jackee Snikeris in net. Snikeris has already re-written much of the Yale record book, including the lowest single-season goals-against average in school history (1.67 in 2008-09). She is on pace to break the Yale career goals-against average record (she is at 2.16; the record is 2.35 by June Mendoza '81) and finish second on Yale's all-time save percentage list (she is at .927; the record is .928 by Mendoza).
Junior Genny Ladiges has stepped up every time that she has been asked to take Snikeris' place, and she has a .904 career save percentage in 21 games played. Sophomore Erin Callahan learned in a backup role last season, making one appearance.
After starting the season with a pair of non-conference games at Vermont, the Bulldogs begin the always-challenging ECAC Hockey portion of their schedule with a trip to Dartmouth and Harvard the following weekend. The Crimson is one of three conference teams ranked or receiving votes in the latest USCHO.com poll, which has Cornell No. 2, Harvard No. 9 and Quinnipiac also receiving votes. Competition will be fierce for the league's eight playoff spots, with best-of-three quarterfinal series beginning Feb. 25. In addition to Vermont, the Bulldogs' non-conference slate includes Hockey East foes No. 7 Boston College, Northeastern and Providence (also receiving votes). Yale will also play in the Nutmeg Classic, the annual tournament that features all four Connecticut Division I women's hockey teams (UConn, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and Yale), at Quinnipiac's TD Bank Sports Center on Nov. 26-27.
Yale hosted McGill for an exhibition this past Sunday, falling to the Martlets 1-0. Vermont tied McGill 2-2, and has since tied RPI twice and lost to BC twice to bring an 0-2-2 regular season record into Friday's game.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity