Ice Hockey Season Starts Saturday with Visit to No. 2 BC

Tara Tomimoto. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Start of Challenging Slate for Bulldogs, Including Games vs. Seven Teams Currently in top 10

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The 2013-14 season starts Saturday with a major challenge for the Yale women's ice hockey team: a road game at Boston College, currently ranked No. 2 in the country. The Eagles, who play New Hampshire Wednesday night, have opened the season with three straight wins while outscoring their opponents 12-4.

This is the Bulldogs' fourth season under head coach Joakim Flygh. Yale returns its starting goaltender and top five scorers from last year, when the team increased its scoring by 35 percent over the previous season.

That list of returnees includes senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto (Calgary, Alta.), who captains Yale in its 37th varsity season. She is part of a five-person senior class that also includes forwards Paige Decker (New Preston, Conn.), Ashley Dunbar (Hillsborough, N.J.), and Patricia McGauley (Wilcox, Sask.) and defenseman Aurora Kennedy (Mississauga, Ont.).

Junior goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (Montreal, Que.) is coming off 2012-13 campaign that saw her earn a second team All-Ivy League selection and the team MVP award. This past offseason she earned multiple invites to Hockey Canada camps, including the National Women's Development Team Camp.

Leonoff's improvement from 2011-12 to 2012-13 was remarkable. She raised her save percentage from .865 to .925 (the sixth-best in school history) while lowering her goals-against average from 6.55 to 2.83. Her save percentage ranked 15th in the country, and it was 16 percentage points away from the Yale record (.941 by Jackee Snikeris '11 in 2010-11). Leonoff was also fourth in the country in saves (944). That total placed her fourth on Yale's single-season record list, trailing only three totals posted by Laurie Belliveau '98 (including the school record, 1,321 saves in 1996-97).

In addition to her own stats, Leonoff also helped backstop a Yale penalty kill unit that ended the season killing off 39 of the last 40 penalties.

Two of the key defensemen in front of Leonoff are Tomimoto and sophomore Kate Martini (King City, Ont.), who played together as Yale's top defensive pair last season while also leading the team offensively. Martini led the Bulldogs in points, was second in assists and was tied for second in goals (6-10-16). Martini was the first pure defenseman to lead Yale in scoring since Lukey MacMullen '84 in 1983-84 (10-12-22). Tomimoto, who missed all of 2011-12 and the final 12 games of her sophomore season with an injury, led the team in assists and finished second on the team in points (2-12-14) last year.

Yale's other two top returning scorers are sophomore forwards Janelle Ferrara (Winthrop, Mass.) and Jamie Haddad (Wilbraham, Mass.). Ferrara missed one game with an injury but still finished tied for second on the team in goals and tied for third in points (6-6-12). She had the team's lone hat trick, scoring three times vs. Dartmouth. Her former Assabet Valley teammate Haddad led Yale in goals and tied for third on the team in points (7-5-12) -- with all of her points coming in conference games. Haddad also led the team in power play goals with five and game-winning goals with two.

The meeting with BC is just the first part of a challenging 2013-14 schedule for Yale. The Bulldogs play seven of the top 10 teams in the country in the current national poll -- including a pair against defending NCAA champion Minnesota at Ingalls Rink, currently ranked No. 1. Yale is scheduled to play 10 games against teams that made the NCAA tournament last year.

BC has already bested one ECAC Hockey team, sweeping St. Lawrence in a two-game series 5-2 and 2-1. Eagles forward Haley Skarupa, who has won one gold medal and two silvers playing for Team USA at the annual Under-18 Women's World Championship, leads the team in goals and points and is tied for the team lead in assists (5-2-7). That includes a pair of short-handed goals; BC is 14-for-15 on the penalty kill so far.

BC goalie Corinne Boyles, who set the school record for winning percentage last year (.804, 22-5-1) has a .950 save percentage and a 1.33 goals-against average. Boyles shut the Bulldogs out the last time these two teams met, a 5-0 Eagles win on Nov. 24, 2012 at Ingalls Rink.

Yale scrimmages Sacred Heart on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Ingalls Rink prior to Saturday's game at BC.