Rookie star takes ice for Team U.S.A.

While the women’s hockey season officially ended March 12, defender Helen Resor ’08 was in no hurry to hang up her skates just yet.

Resor, a Greenwich, Conn. native, spent the beginning of April as a member of Team U.S.A. at the 2005 IIHF World Championship held in Sweden. Team U.S.A. went undefeated in the tournament en route to upsetting nine-time defending champion Team Canada in a shootout April 9. Resor contributed an assist to the team’s championship efforts, the first time a country other than Canada has won.

“Helen is a fantastic hockey player, and a phenomenal person,” Yale head coach Hilary Witt said. “Along with her skill, she brings an immense amount of passion to any team she plays for. It is no surprise to me that she was part of the U.S. National Team. She has worked very hard to earn that position.”

Resor was unavailable for comment.

The team’s campaign began with two preliminary round wins. The first came at the expense of Team China, which the Americans routed 8-2. The second was a 7-0 shutout over Team Germany.

In the playoff round, Team U.S.A. defeated Finland 8-1 in its first contest before facing Sweden in the semifinal for what would prove to be the Americans’ first true challenge of the tournament. Resor was credited with an assist when she fed forward Molly Engstrom on a power-play goal during the 4-1 win over the Swedes April 8.

The win over Sweden set up Team U.S.A. for a championship face-off against Team Canada, which had won the tournament annually since its inception in 1997. Canada had defeated Finland in the semifinals to reach the final round. The Americans and the Canadians remained locked in a stalemate for all 60 regulation minutes and a 20-minute sudden-death overtime period, forcing a shootout.

Resor, one of five players chosen by Team U.S.A. head coach Ben Smith to participate in the shootout, had an opportunity to score her first goal of the trip with Team U.S.A leading the shootout 2-1. But Resor could not find the net on her shot and her Canadian counterpart Caroline Ouelette was similarly denied. Krissy Wendell of the University of Minnesota nailed Team U.S.A.’s next shot, and the Americans took the shootout 3-1 to win the tournament for the first time in its history.

Although she was playing in a foreign country on a team comprised of the most talented hockey players from across the nation, there was no lack of familiar faces for Resor. Also on Team U.S.A.’s roster was Harvard’s Julie Chu. Resor and Chu faced off during the ECAC playoff semifinal contest March 12, when the Crimson snuck by the Elis 2-1 in overtime to advance to the finals. Resor also shared the ice with a former teammate from high school, forward Sarah Parsons, who is currently finishing her senior year at Resor’s alma mater, Noble & Greenough.

With her international experience, Resor joins an elite group of Elis who have represented Yale on the U.S. National Team. Forward Maria Dennis ’88 and goaltender Laurie Belliveau ’98 each held places on the Team U.S.A. roster following graduation.

Belliveau now teaches and coaches ice hockey at St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts, a prep school which competes regularly against Noble & Greenough. Her coaching position, as well as her continued interest in Yale women’s hockey, has allowed her to follow Resor’s progress since she was in high school.

“I think Helen is a tremendous player,” Belliveau said. “She has a real intensity when she plays and she plays with incredible intensity. I was really glad I got to see her play this winter for Yale. I think she’s taken her game to the next level, and that she has room to go even further.”

Belliveau’s team, which competed in the World Championship in 1999 also met Team Canada in the final matchup of the tournament. However, the Americans fell just short of the win, losing 3-1, and returned to the United States with the silver medal.

Belliveau reflected a bit on how it felt to be part of Team U.S.A and gave perspective on how Resor must have felt competing in Sweden.

“Obviously, it was quite an honor to represent my country, and I felt very privileged to have that honor,” she said. “It was both very gratifying, exciting and thrilling but also very challenging in a lot of ways.”

Historically, the team members selected to play in the World Championship the year before the Winter Olympics are an accurate indicator of the players who will be asked to represent the United States at the Games. If the 2006 Olympic team shapes up like the majority of teams in the past, it would not be a surprise to see Resor in Turin, Italy, helping Team U.S.A carry the torch. Though it is a tough decision for a player to leave one’s college team for a year, Belliveau said she does not understand how Resor could make an alternative choice.

“I think the opportunity to play in the Olympics is a once-in-a-liefetime thing and the ability for [Resor] to do that is remarkable,” Belliveau said. “She can always end up at Yale and I know that she will ultimately finish her degree there. And the way she is, I think she’d feel loyalty to stay with her team at Yale, but I think that you can’t pass up the opportunity to play in the Olympics.”

Should Resor be offered and accept a position on the 2006 Olympic squad, she would leave a gaping hole in the Eli roster. She made an immediate impact on the team this season, earning ECAC and USCHO all-rookie honors. Resor brings to the Elis a capacity to play spectacularly at both ends of the ice. She is a tremendous physical force on defense, but has a keen eye for the goal on the attack.

“She’s a smart player,” former Eli captain Erin Duggan ’05 said. “Having her size on defense is key. She’s a heads-up player who can carry the puck. She definitely contributed offensively this season and was an important offensive defender for the team.”

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