February 21, 2011

Jackee Snikeris Nominated for Kazmaier Award as Top Player in College Hockey

Senior Goalie Re-Wrote Yale Record Book

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Senior goaltender Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.), who re-wrote the Yale record book in a memorable career that ended this past Saturday, has been nominated for the Kazmaier Award as the most outstanding player in NCAA Division I women's ice hockey. Snikeris, who has been nominated for the award each of the past two seasons, was among 26 nominees nationwide announced by USA Hockey on Monday.

Snikeris posted some of the most remarkable numbers of her stellar career this past season, highlighted by her .941 save percentage that currently has her ranked seventh in the country. That figure set the school record in that category, and gives her four of the top eight single-season save percentage marks in Yale history. Her 1.98 goals-against average this season ranks third, trailing only her own 1.67 mark from 2008-09 and the 1.978 mark posted by June Mendoza '80 in 1978-79. Snikeris has four of the top seven single-season goals-against averages in Yale history.

Snikeris had three shutouts this season, extending her school career record in that category to 16 -- four more than any other player. She also finished her career with a save percentage of .931, breaking the school record in that category (.915, Sarah Love '06) by 16 points. She had a career goals-against average of 2.12, breaking the school record in that category (2.61, Shivon Zilis '08) by nearly half a goal. Her 2,092 career saves place her fifth on Yale's all-time list.

Snikeris played her best down the stretch, as Yale vied for an ECAC Hockey playoff spot despite missing two key defensemen due to season-ending injuries. She had three shutouts in her final seven games, stopping 202 out of 211 shots in that span for a .957 save percentage and a 1.27 goals-against average. She made 32 or more saves four times in those seven games. Her season was also highlighted by a career-best 49-save effort Jan. 3 against Boston College.

Snikeris accomplished it all while playing through an injury, suffered in the third game of the year, that cost her seven games.

"Jackee is a very special player and was such a big part of our success this year," said Joakim Flygh, who just completed his first season as Yale's head coach after working as an assistant at Harvard, Minnesota-Duluth and New England College. "During my years in coaching I have not been around a more intelligent goaltender. She is a fierce competitor and is meticulous in her preparation. Jackee defines the word 'loyalty' when it comes to her teammates and the Yale program. Her devotion to her teammates and the success of the program is incredible."

Snikeris is a history of science, history of medicine major in Branford College. She will earn her fourth ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection this season, and has been nominated for the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year Award. She will be published in the Journal of Surgical Radiology for research work she did this past summer at Stamford Hospital.

 In addition to her work on the ice and in the classroom this year, Snikeris has also been active in the community. She and her Yale teammates will soon lead their third annual bone marrow donor testing drive, an event they became involved in because of teammate Mandi Schwartz' battle with cancer. Snikeris and her teammates have been involved in multiple activities to raise funds and awareness for Mandi's cause, including the "White Out for Mandi" that brought a record crowd of 1,066 out to a game at Ingalls Rink earlier this year. They have also "adopted" a nine-year-old Yale-New Haven Hospital patient, Giana, who is recovering from surgery for a brain tumor. Among other community service initiatives, Snikeris also participates in Yale's Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society and had volunteered at a local hospice. She is a graduate of Yale Athletics' Kiphuth Leadership Academy, designed to help Yale student-athletes become world-class leaders.

The Kazmaier Award is named after Patty Kazmaier, a former Princeton player who battled a rare blood disease for more than a year before passing away in 1990 at the age of 28. It is given annually by The USA Hockey Foundation. In addition to on-ice performance, other selection criteria include outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration is also given to academic achievement and civic involvement.

To determine this year's Kazmaier Award nominees, all 34 NCAA Division I women's ice hockey head coaches were asked to list the top five players in their league, as well as the top five players in the nation. A player had to be listed by two coaches in order to be considered a nominee. The coaches will now receive a ballot and will be asked to rank their top 10 from the list of 26 nominated players. After that, a 13-member selection committee will pick three finalists (announced Mar. 10) and the winner.

The winner of the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented by Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, will be introduced Mar. 19 during the NCAA Women's Frozen Four hosted by Mercyhurst.

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