January 5th, 2010 | Sports

W. HOCKEY | Two juniors compete against Team USA

After playing twice for Yale earlier in the weekend, women’s hockey forward Bray Ketchum ’11 and goaltender Jackee Snikeris ’11 sampled Olympic-level play Sunday, when they joined other members of the ECAC Hockey All-Star Team to take part in an exhibition game against the U.S. Women’s National Team.

The two Eli juniors were among 21 elite ECAC players who competed in the exhibition game at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden. The contest drew a crowd of 3,809, and Team USA notched an 8–2 win against the All-Star squad.

“It was a great event,” said Ketchum, who was on the ice for the All-Stars’ first goal. “Even though we lost by a lot, it was fun to play in front of that many fans, which I don’t think I’ll ever do again in a game.”

Yale head coach Hilary Witt served as one of two assistant coaches for the ECAC team, which was headed by Princeton’s Jeff Kampersal.

“I thought the kids battled hard for a team that didn’t have any practice,” Witt said. “It’s just a great experience for the kids in the ECAC to get a chance to play, and it’s a once in a lifetime chance.”

Team USA grabbed the lead from the get-go when Angela Ruggiero sent a hard slap shot into the net just 21 seconds into play. The U.S. squad got two more goals during the first period, outshooting the ECAC team 12–10.

Snikeris stepped into goal for the second period, relieving RPI goalie Sonja van der Bliek. The ECAC players were in the middle of a penalty kill — with 1:09 left on the clock — when Snikeris took the ice and helped to keep Team USA from capitalizing.

“I was definitely nervous,” Snikeris said. “But I was really excited to be there, and I tried to have fun and do whatever I could to help our team.”

The U.S. made it 4–0 at 2:38 when Jocelyne Lamoureux got a shot passed Snikeris. Ketchum’s shot on Team USA was blocked moments later. The Americans scored again at 9:13 in the second period.

But then the All-Stars got some momentum going. Just three minutes later, St. Lawrence’s forward Tara Akstull knocked in a deflected shot to put the ECAC on the board. Ketchum was on the ice for the play.

“It was really fun to score against them, and it brought our team together,” Ketchum said, adding that the All-Stars responded well to the faster and more aggressive pace of the game.

“The players that were on our team were good enough to go against that pace,” she said.

The All-Stars notched another goal at 16:51, whittling Team USA’s lead down to three points. Ketchum also got another shot in — saved by U.S. goaltender Molly Schaus — as the period wound down. But the Americans scored once more with 10 seconds remaining to make it a 6–2 game.

Snikeris racked up 10 saves during her shift. One of her best efforts came midway through the period, when she foiled a breakaway and deke by a Team USA player.

“She went to her forehand, and I just followed her and didn’t over-commit or anything and slid back to my post,” Snikeris said.

The two goals the All-Stars collected in the second period ended up being their only ones of the game, even though the ECAC players outshot Team USA, 12–11, in the third period. The Americans managed to capitalize twice more to earn the final 8–2 tally.

The exhibition game was part of Team USA’s 10-game 2009-’10 Qwest Tour, a program that helps Team USA to prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.