Awards abound for Yale hockey

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This week, members of the Yale hockey program have been walking off the ice with more than just victories. Two members of the men’s team, defenseman Bill LeClerc ’07 and goalie Alec Richards ’09, and women’s team forward Crysti Howser ’09 earned ECACHL weekly awards.

LeClerc, a defenseman who has notched five goals and four assists this season, was named Rookie of the Week. This past weekend, he came up big against both Princeton and Quinnipiac. In New Jersey, the Bulldogs defeated the Tigers by a 6-1 margin, bolstered by LeClerc’s three points on a goal and two assists. On Sunday, he helped the Bulldogs by scoring the game-winning goal over Quinnipiac in the two teams’ first-ever meeting.

Richards, who was named Goaltender of the Week for the second week in a row, also had a successful weekend, stopping 66 of 70 shots on goal. Against the Tigers, Richards stopped 29 of the 30 shots attempted. On Sunday, Richards blocked 37 of the 40 shot attempts. After the first half of the season, Richards boasts a 0.909 save percentage.

But the men’s team is made up of more than just a few award-winning athletes, and although both players were happy with the recognition, they said the team’s main focus and purpose is to win games.

“The recognition for the players is nice, but more importantly, we have started to come together as a team and are finding ways to win games, which we struggled with last year,” LeClerc said.

The men ended the weekend with two victories over league competitors, making a four-game league winning streak a reality. The Bulldogs had previously posted victories over Brown and Harvard.

The Bulldogs (5-9-1, 4-6-0 ECACHL) need more than just awards to finish the season strong. To continue winning, the Bulldogs look to work on special teams and overall defense to limit competitors’ chances at goal, LeClerc said.

“We’re all really clicking right now and playing consistently, which is the most important thing,” Richards said. “As long as everyone can give a consistent effort night in and night out, we feel pretty comfortable with our chances.”

The women’s team (5-7-3, 2-2-2 ECACHL) is also looking to turn its season around. The Bulldogs had a successful weekend, coming away with a tie against Princeton and soundly defeating Northeastern, 3-0. Earlier in the week, the Bulldogs defeated Boston College, 3-2.

Howser started off the week with an assist against the Eagles. When Yale took on Princeton, Howser scored twice and had two assists, and against Northeastern, she earned a goal and an assist.

Howser missed the first seven games of the season while the women’s soccer team advanced in the NCAA tournament, but her performance on the ice does not seem to have suffered. She is tied for second on the team in points, with 12, one off the team lead. She is currently tied for second in points per game (1.50) in the ECAC.

“It is a great thing to have players receive these awards because it usually means we had a successful weekend,” Yale head coach Hilary Witt said. “You don’t typically receive these awards when you don’t win games.”

Howser, who earned seven points in the three games on three goals and four assists, is no stranger to awards. This fall, she was named both Ivy League Rookie and SoccerBuzz’s Northeast Region Freshman of the Year for women’s soccer.

Witt said she was pleased with Howser’s accolade and hopes both she and the rest of the team can keep improving.

“We hope to keep getting production out of Crysti,” Witt said. “We also need to get more out of other players.”

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