During women’s hockey goalkeeper, Genny Ladiges’s ’12 first game as a Bulldog, upperclassman goaltender Jackee Snikeris ’11 lost her helmet and took a skate to the face. Snikeris broke her nose and the freshman Ladiges unexpectedly took to the net. Ladiges went on to play in goal for 15 games that season.
Now in her senior year, just as three years ago, Ladiges plays a crucial role on the team. She has played 14 out of 18 games this season, and she has a 0.888 save percentage and a 4.62 goals-against average.
“Genny has definitely grown as a person and an athlete over the past three-and-a-half years,” teammate Heather Grant ’12 said in an email to the News. “She has gone from a quiet, scrawny and somewhat intimidated young freshman to a more outspoken teammate, an awesome goalie and an integral member of our team.”
While Ladiges has held her own in the net, suiting up for a team that has struggled through the years to keep the puck out of her defensive zone might appear a daunting task.
Yale has one only a single game this season.
“I try not to think about finishing at Yale,” she said. “Even though the season’s gone pretty horribly, I take nothing for granted — I don’t want to leave with any regrets and just try to play my best. Every practice we’re lucky to be out there.”
That upbeat attitude has helped to keep the team competitive, despite its scoreboard struggles, head coach Joakim Flygh said.
The team certainly counts on Ladiges, who has made over 40 saves in a game four times this year, to keep afloat when Yale is often outshot by large margins. Most recently, the Elis were outshot 52 to 17 against St. Lawrence on Saturday.
“She played behind Snickeris for three years and never complained about where she fit in, so it is great to see her take charge as a senior and push hard to give us an opportunity to be competitive each night she plays,” Flygh said.
Grant added that whenever Ladiges makes a big play, she boosts the entire team’s morale.
Known to coaches and teammates as a “quiet leader,” Ladiges is what you would expect of a goalie: reserved and humble, but competitive, quick and agile, Flygh said. He added that she is very well liked by everyone on the team, and that her character makes her coaches want to see her succeed.
Teammates interviewed echoed Flygh’s sentiments.
“Genny’s happy-go-lucky personality is a calming force on our team,” team captain Aleca Hughes ’12 said. “I admire her quiet focus and passion.”
Grant added that Ladiges is a good role model for the younger goalies, Jaimie Leonoff ’15 and Erin Callahan ’13. The entire team, she said, looks to Ladiges for leadership.
Ladiges and Grant first met at Bulldog Days as prefrosh.
“She has been my best friend since day one and I would do pretty much anything for her,” Grant said of Ladiges.
Now a psychology major in Davenport, Ladiges came to Yale from her hometown of Almonte, Ont., just outside of Ottawa. She said she was inspired to start playing hockey around age 7, when her home NHL team, the Ottawa Senators, made it to the playoffs.
Ladiges joined an organized league one year later.
“When they asked me what position I wanted to play, I just blurted out ‘goalie,’” Ladiges recalled. “I’d never really thought about it, but I just thought the equipment was really neat and it would be a lot of fun. I’ve been a goalie ever since — this will be 14 years now.”
Ladiges played in net for five years in a boys’ hockey league in Almonte, before she transferred to a high-level girls’ team based in Ottawa that traveled to cities like Toronto and Montreal for games. Before her senior year of high school, Ladiges completed the recruitment process for Yale.
Ladiges said Yale had always been her first choice because of its academic caliber.
She added that some of her best friends are on the team with her, and that she has enjoyed meeting people who are passionate about hockey and who strive to balance athletics and schoolwork.
Next year, she said she plans to go to graduate school for a master’s in psychology, but added she might also return to Canada and work towards an engineering degree. She has done research is in music cognition and currently works in a medical decision-making lab.
But before she leaves, she still has 11 more games until the playoffs to play for the Blue and White. No matter where she ends up, Ladiges said hockey will always be a part of her life and added that she hopes her children will also play.
“She is very capable of stealing a game and I think we will see some of her best hockey down this final stretch,” Flygh said.