May 13, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Four Yale Bulldogs will take part in USA Hockey's Open Olympic Tryouts this weekend, looking to earn consideration for the team. The group includes two current players -- freshman forward Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.) and sophomore forward Bray Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.) -- along with two incoming recruits, goaltender Erin Callahan (Kenilworth, Ill.) and defenseman/forward Natalie Wedell (Arden Hills, Minn.).
The tryouts are held at two locations, in Massachusetts and Minnesota, with 100 players at each location. Callahan, Hughes and Ketchum are trying out in Massachusetts, while Wedell is in Minnesota.
Hughes made a quick impact in the scoring column as a freshman, tying for third on the team in goals with seven and finishing fourth in points with 16. She was whistled for only four penalties all season. The five-foot-10 winger has impressive hockey bloodlines. Her father, George, played hockey for Harvard and is seventh on the Crimson's career scoring list (66 goals, 95 assists). Her uncle, Jack, played for Harvard and the NHL's Colorado Rockies. Her mother, Allison, played for BU. Her older brother, George, will play hockey at St. Lawrence in 2009-10 and her younger brother, Gunnar, plays for Salisbury.
Prior to Yale Hughes played for the Connecticut Stars, earning two bronze medals and one silver at Nationals. She attended Hotchkiss.
Ketchum tied for the team lead in goals with 13 and was second in points with 23. She finished the season on a roll, with more goals (six) in the final 11 games than any other Bulldog. She also led the team in scoring in ECAC Hockey games, as all 13 of her goals came in conference play. With 22 goals at the halfway point of her career, she is already 23rd all-time at Yale in that category and on pace to finish in the top six. Prior to Yale, Ketchum played for Greenwich Academy and the Connecticut Stars. She was a four-time USA Hockey player development camp selection.
Callahan, a 2006 USA Hockey player development camp selection, has been a part of back-to-back Wisconsin state championships with the Wisconsin Wild Under-19 team -- the same program that produced two other Bulldogs, senior forward Sarah Tittman (Chilton, Wisc.) and Sheila Zingler `07. Callahan had an .889 save percentage and a 2.11 goals-against average this past season. She won a state championship with the Wild Under-16 team in 2005-06, and she was an MWEHL Academic Gold Award winner for five years. She also played lacrosse for New Trier High.
Wedell captained both the ice hockey and track and field teams, and was All-conference and All-state academic in both sports, at Mounds View High School. She was chosen for the inaugural 2008 Upper Midwest High School Elite League (UMHSEL) East Metro team and went on to become one of four senior defensemen on the All-Star UMHSEL team that won the 2008 Bauer Invitational Tournament. She also played for the Section 5A/AA team that won the 2009 Senior Classic, and for the Section 5A/AA team that won the Phase 2 Advanced 16 final. Her sister, Lauren, plays on a 14AAA team coached by former Yale hockey player Erika Hockinson-Spande `04.
The Open Olympic Tryouts are one of numerous steps in the process that leads up to the selection of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team. In August, USA Hockey's Player Evaluation Committee will select up to 46 players to participate in the Women's National Festival in Lake Placid, N.Y.; those who participate in these open tryouts are eligible for selection for this event, along with players who have been scouted by USA Hockey and players who have already been on the National Team or participated in USA Hockey development camps during the 2006 and 2010 quadrenniums.
From that group of 46 at the National Festival, a group of 23 will be selected to train as the Women's National Team preparing for the 2010 Olympic Games. Part of that training includes the Qwest Tour, a series of 10 exhibition games from September 2009 through February 2010. That tour includes a stop near New Haven at the TD Banknorth Center in Hamden, Conn., on Jan. 3 to play the ECAC Hockey All-Stars.
That group of 23 will be narrowed to 20 no later than January 10, 2010, for the final Olympic Team.
In addition to the four trying out this weekend, many other current Bulldogs have been involved with the USA Hockey program as well. Senior defenseman Helen Resor (Greenwich, Conn.) just won her second gold medal with Team USA at the IIHF Women's World Championship in Hameenlinna, Finland, last month. Resor was a bronze medal winner with Team USA at the 2006 Olympics and figures to contend for a roster spot in 2010 as well. Sophomore goaltender Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.) has been invited to USA Hockey's annual Warren Strelow Goaltending Camp later this month, where she will be one of 12 goaltenders receiving instruction from National Team coaches. Senior forward Crysti Howser (Wilmette, Ill.) played for the U.S. Under-22 Team in a three-game series vs. Canada last summer, the second year in a row she was a part of that series.
Several Yale coaches and alums also have been involved with USA Hockey. Head coach Hilary Witt played on the U.S. National Team in 2000-01 and was an assistant coach with the U.S. team in 2006-07, earning a silver medal at the 2007 IIHF World Championship. Former Yale men's hockey assistant coach Ben Smith was head coach for the U.S. women's team at the Olympics three times, winning a gold medal in 1998, and now serves as a national team advisor. Forward Maria Dennis '88 was on the 1990 U.S. Women's National Team, and goaltender Laurie Belliveau '98 was on the 1999 U.S. Women's National Team.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity