August 10, 2011

Koizumi, Snikeris Earn Invites to USA Hockey Women’s National Festival

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale women's ice hockey is well-represented at the 2011 USA Hockey Women's National Festival, as goalie Jackee Snikeris '11 and assistant coach Jessica Koizumi have both earned invitations to the camp. They are in Blaine, Minn., Aug. 10-20 in hopes of earning a spot on Team USA's roster for upcoming international competitions.

The USA Hockey Women's National Festival includes 79 players. Among the attendees are 19 of the 21 members of the U.S. Women's National Team that captured the gold medal at the 2011 IIHF Women's World Championship. In addition, 14 of the players were on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team. The Festival participants will be divided into four teams for daily practices and games at the Schwan Super Rink, part of the National Sports Center. That includes one team consisting of the 28 players who are vying for spots on the Under-18 team; the remaining 51 are divided into three other teams: Red, White and Blue. Koizumi is on the White team and Snikeris is on the Red team. USA Hockey intends to announce the roster for the 2011 U.S. Women's Team on Aug. 19.

The first competition that Team USA will take part in is the IIHF Eight Nations Tournament, which takes place Aug. 24-31 in Vierumaki, Finland. Other upcoming competitions include the 2011 Women's Four Nations Cup (Nov. 9-14 in Nykoping, Sweden) and the 2012 IIHF World Women's Championship (April 7-14 in Burlington, Vt.). USA Hockey will also host its Women's Winter Training Camp Dec. 26-31 at a location to be determined.

A five-time USA Hockey player development camp pick prior to coming to Yale, Snikeris concluded a stint at USA Hockey's Warren Strelow Goaltending Camp this past May, where she was part of a group of 12 of the best goaltenders in the country. She has been invited to the camp in all four years of its existence.

Snikeris ended her Yale career in memorable fashion this past season, earning a nomination for the Kazmaier Award as the top player in college hockey. She was also first team All-New England, ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Year, first team All-ECAC Hockey and first team All-Ivy League. A standout in the classroom as well, she earned ECAC Hockey's Student-Athlete of the Year Award and was Academic All-Ivy League. She won the Sarah Devens Award, a joint ECAC Hockey-Hockey East honor for the student-athlete who "demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice." 

Snikeris' .941 save percentage last year placed her seventh in the country. That figure set the school record in that category, and gives her four of the top eight single-seasons save percentage marks in Yale history. Her 1.98 goals-against average 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.

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.

Koizumi, who earned a gold medal as a member of the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2008 IIHF World Women's Championship, joined the Yale staff as an assistant coach last season. She played for the University of Minnesota-Duluth while Yale head coach Joakim Flygh was an assistant there, and captained UMD to the NCAA Frozen Four championship game in 2007.

In addition to her gold medal at the 2008 IIHF Women's World Championship in China, Koizumi also was part of the U.S. team's second-place finish at the 2007 Four Nations Cup. She was on the U.S. Women's Select Team in 2008-09 while getting her master's degree in education from Minnesota-Duluth. She also played for the U.S. Under-22 Select Team in the series with Canada in 2004 and 2006.

Koizumi has participated in six other USA Hockey National Festivals (2004-2009) and four USA Hockey Player Development Camps (2000-2003). She has also participated in several USA Hockey Holiday Festivals and June Conditioning Camps, and has played for Team USA at three Women's World InLine Hockey Championships (2005-07). That included a gold medal in Detroit in 2006 and a silver medal in France in 2005.

Koizumi, a forward, finished her career ranked No. 7 on the UMD career scoring list with 155 points (84-71-155) and was a team captain for two years. As a senior in 2006-07 she led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Women's Frozen Four championship game after coming back from a torn MCL midway through the season. She scored two goals, including the game-winner, in a double-overtime victory over Boston College in the national semifinal game and was named to the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team. She was also a third team All-WCHA selection that year, and was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team as a freshman.

Before coming to Yale Koizumi spent a season as an assistant coach for the White Team at the North American Hockey Academy. She also played part-time for Montreal Stars in the Central Women's Hockey League, helping the team to the CWHL regular season title. She had 11 goals and 11 assists in just 17 games. In 2010-11 she played part-time for the Boston in the CWHL, totaling 20 points (10-10-20) and a +14 in 19 games.

Koizumi, who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a 2003 graduate of Marina High School (Calif.). She played for the Cal Selects Hockey Club from 1999-2003, and was named the 2002-03 Cal Selects Player of the Year.

Besides Koizumi and Snikeris, Yale has many connections to the USA Hockey program. Defenseman Helen Resor '09 was the first Yale women's ice hockey player to make the Olympics when she played for Team USA and earned a bronze medal in Torino in 2006. She also has two gold medals (2005, 2009) and one silver (2007) with the U.S. at the IIHF World Championships. Forward Crysti Howser '09 was a member of USA Hockey's Under-22 Select team in 2007 and 2008, playing in the annual three-game series against Team Canada. She scored a goal for the U.S. in 2008. Forward Bray Ketchum '11 was on the Under-22 Team last summer. Ketchum, along with three other Bulldogs (rising junior goalie Erin Callahan (Kenilworth, Ill.), rising senior forward Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.) and rising junior defenseman/forward Natalie Wedell (Arden Hills, Minn.)), participated in USA Hockey's Open Olympic Team Tryouts two years ago.

Additionally, forward Maria Dennis '88 was on the 1990 U.S. Women's National Team that earned silver at the first IIHF Women's World Championship, and goaltender Laurie Belliveau '98 was on the U.S. Women's National Team that earned silver at the 1999 IIHF Women's World Championship.

Yale's USA Hockey connections include positions behind the bench as well. Former Yale head coach Hilary Witt was on the U.S. National Team in 2000-01. Also, former Yale men's hockey assistant coach Ben Smith coached the U.S. women's team at the Olympics three times, winning a gold medal in 1998, and has served as a National Team advisor. Former Yale equipment manager Ed Maturo was equipment manager with the U.S. Women's Olympic Team in 2006 and the U.S. Men's Olympic Team in 1994.

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