Jackee Snikeris Named ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year

Jackee Snikeris. (photo by David Silverman, dspics.com)
Jackee Snikeris. (photo by David Silverman, dspics.com)

Record-Setting Senior Goalie is First Bulldog to Win Award

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Senior goalie Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.) has been named ECAC Hockey's Student-Athlete of the Year, becoming the first Bulldog to win the award. The honor recognizes Snikeris' work off the ice, as her work on the ice has already been recognized many times over this year -- she was a nominee for the Kazmaier Award as the top player in college hockey, she was ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Year and first team All-ECAC Hockey, and she was first team All-Ivy League.

In February Snikeris was named one of three finalists for Student-Athlete of the Year, the fourth time in the award's five-year history that Yale has had a finalist. She is a pre-med History of Science, History of Medicine major who has a 3.59 cumulative GPA and will receive her fourth ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection this season. In addition to working at a nearby hospital and having some of her work there published in the Journal of Surgical Radiology, she has also volunteered at a local hospice for the past two years and taught skating to local middle schoolers. She has been a part of team-wide initiatives to raise awareness of the need for bone marrow donors and umbilical cord blood donors to help save the lives of patients in need, inspired by her teammate Mandi Schwartz' battle with cancer. She has taken part in Yale's Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society and helped teach sports skills to local children. She has also been a part of a program that pairs local brain tumor patients with Yale sports teams.

On the ice, Snikeris re-wrote the Yale record book many times over, setting the school's career records for save percentage (.931), goals-against average (2.12) and shutouts (16). She made an instant impact for the Bulldogs as a freshman in 2007-08, placing 12th in the country with a .921 save percentage and posting four shutouts, the most ever by a Yale freshman. She had a streak of 130:21 without allowing a goal. She went one step better in her sophomore season, earning team tri-MVP honors. Despite being limited to 15 games by illness and injury, she set the school single-season goals-against average record (1.67, .31 better than the previous record). She also tied the school record with five shutouts. She posted back-to-back-to-back shutouts at the end of the season, going 266:23 without allowing a goal until the streak was snapped in the final period of the final game. Her .934 save percentage placed her fourth in the country. She earned honorable mention All-Ivy League honors for the second straight season for her efforts.

Snikeris' progress continued in her junior year, as she was a nominee for the Kazmaier Award and became the first Yale player to be named first team All-Ivy League since 2003-04. She was named team MVP again, and placed 10th in the country with a .927 save percentage. She was selected to the ECAC Hockey All-Star team and made 10 saves in one period of an exhibition game vs. Team USA. She was named ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week Jan. 25 after her 1-0 shutout of St. Lawrence gave the Bulldogs their first win over the Saints in history (they had been 0-35-1). She broke the Yale career record for shutouts with her 13th on Jan. 30, in just her 49th career game, and had four shutouts for the season.

Snikeris has four of the top seven single-season goals-against averages in Yale history and four of the top eight single-season save percentages in Yale history. She is currently seventh in the country in save percentage. 

Snikeris has extensive experience with USA Hockey as well. She attended USA Hockey Under-22 Select Team tryouts in the spring of 2008, and has been selected for USA Hockey's Warren Strelow Goaltending Camp, featuring Olympians and the top goaltending prospects in the country, three times. She was a five-time USA Hockey player development camp pick. This past August, she served as a volunteer instructor at USA Hockey's U14 Development Camp.

Off the ice, Snikeris has excelled in the classroom while taking a pre-med course load. She has also graduated from the Yale Athletics Department's Kiphuth Leadership Academy, a program designed to develop Yale student-athletes to be world-class leaders in athletics, academics and life. 

Snikeris was awarded a Yale Alumni Community Service Fellowship and spent the summer of 2010 working for Dr. Timothy Hall, Chair of the Department of Surgery, at Stamford Hospital. Along with Dr. Hall and two others, she authored a paper that will be published in the Journal of Surgical Radiology in April, A Cystic Adenomatous Malformation presenting as Empyema in an Adult: Case Report and Review of the Literature. She performed research and literature reviews for that paper and also on a lumbar hernia. She also spent time shadowing medical school students, residents and attending surgeons. Additionally, she volunteered for the hospital's Manager of Community Health and Education, Mary Judge, at various health fairs across Connecticut.

In the summer of 2009, Snikeris worked under Dr. Jose L. Diaz at the Pulmonary Group of Central Florida. She shadowed Dr. Diaz along with thoracic, general and cardiac surgeons. She observed surgeries such as a lung lobectomy, a laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair, a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and an open heart aortic valve replacement.

Snikeris' experience in the medical field also includes time working as an office assistant at Yale's Biomedical Center in the spring of 2008.

In her time with the Yale women's ice hockey team Snikeris has also been a part of numerous team initiatives. The team partnered with the Yale football team in the spring of 2009 to host a bone marrow donor testing drive for the National Marrow Donor Program's "Be The Match" registry for patients in need of life-saving genetic matches for stem cell transplants. Snikeris and her Yale teammates helped register a record 704 patients at the first drive, then broke that record last spring by registering 921 more potential donors. To date, at least four genetic matches for patients in need have been found through Yale's efforts.

The bone marrow donor testing drive was inspired by the plight of Snikeris' Yale teammate Mandi Schwartz, who has been battling cancer (acute myeloid leukemia) since December of 2008. In addition to the drives, this past fall the Bulldogs organized a "White Out for Mandi" around their game vs. RPI at Ingalls Rink. The game drew a record crowd of more than 1,000 people to Ingalls, and featured specially designed white t-shirts with Mandi's uniform number, 17. It served as a fundraiser for Mandi and her family, raising more than $15,000, while also raising awareness of the need for bone marrow donors and umbilical cord blood donors. Snikeris was also part of the efforts throughout the summer of 2010 to find a genetic match for Mandi and others in need, working with media outlets and other places where expectant parents could be reached, such as OB-GYN offices, to promote donation of umbilical cord blood.

Snikeris and her Yale teammates were also part of the start of the "Bulldog Buddies" program this past fall. The Yale women's ice hockey team "adopted" a local girl named Giana who had recently had surgery to remove a brain tumor. The team has since visited Giana regularly, and she has been coming to games dressed up in her own personalized Yale uniform. The Bulldog Buddies program is designed to pair brain tumor patients from Yale-New Haven Hospital with Yale athletics teams to serve as a support group after the operation. In addition to "Bulldog Buddies", the Yale women's ice hockey team also recently began supporting "Do it for Daron", a campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues in young adults. The campaign is named after Daron Richardson, daughter of former NHL player Luke Richardson, who took her own life last year.

Snikeris has also been active in the community in other ways throughout her time at Yale. She has spent the past two years volunteering at a local hospice, working directly with patients. She also has spent this past season volunteering each week teaching local middle schoolers how to skate.

Snikeris has been a participant in Yale's annual "Relay for Life" American Cancer Society fund-raiser since her freshman year, when she served on the food and beverage committee. She has also been a part of the Yale Athletics Department's Thomas W. Ford '42 Community Outreach Program, participating in activities such as teaching sports skills to local youths as part of Yale Athletics' annual "Youth Days".  

Prior to coming to Yale Snikeris graduated cum laude from the Taft School, where she was a two-time captain of the ice hockey team and won the school's Patsy K. Odden Award for leadership and sportsmanship. She also played for the Connecticut Polar Bears, earning Easton Skills Overall Best Goaltender and winning the Breakaway competition at 2007 US Nationals.

Snikeris intends to enter medical school in 2012.

Yale and the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year Award
2006-07 Kelsey Johnson (Finalist)
2007-08 Danielle Kozlowski (Finalist)
2008-09 Danielle Kozlowski (Finalist)
2010-11 Jackee Snikeris (Winner)


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