26 April, 2017

Krista Yip-Chuck Leads by Example with Yale Bulldogs

Part of a rebuilding era for the Yale Bulldogs women’s ice hockey team, Krista Yip-Chuck was an important component of the program’s foundation during the last four seasons. Bringing a fundamentally sound game and a list of achievements that included a consecutive games streak of over 100 with the Bulldogs, signifying an exceptional durability, her presence helped propel the Bulldogs into the 2017 postseason, while maintaining a standard of respectability for a program still assembling the pieces towards a competitive puzzle.

Raised in the Greater Toronto Area community of Nobleton, Ontario, Yip-Chuck is more than just an accomplished hockey star, she is also a second generation athlete. Of note, her mother, Lisa Preiss competed in volleyball at the NCAA level with the Cincinnati Bearcats during the 1980s, earning an All-Metro Tournament selection.

Among the honors in Yip-Chuck’s career with the Bulldogs, what she has accomplished off the ice is just as important. A Valedictorian at All Saints high school, where she was also the Team MVP of its varsity team, she has spent off-seasons graciously giving her time to the Whitby Civic Physiotherapy Clinic. Reamining proficient in the classroom, Yip-Chuck has enjoyed the honor of being named an ECAC Hockey All-Academic in the aftermath of her sophomore and junior seasons, representing a strong point of pride for the Sociology major,

“Being named to the All-Academic team was a great accomplishment for me personally because I struggled a bit in my first year of school. I would love for other student-athletes to be able to learn from my experience, determine what program/major they are truly interested in and work hard at it because I think it's so important to take advantage of the opportunity we have getting to attend college and play the game we love.”

Having honed her skills with the PWHL’s Whitby Jr. Wolves, Yip-Chuck was the Wolves captain in the 2012-13 campaign, also emerging as the league’s scoring champion with 65 points in only 38 games. Such a season culminated with the PWHL regular season and league championship.

Of note, Yip-Chuck was part of a legendary alumnae on the Wolves that featured Hanna Bunton, Alex Moore and Hailey Noronha, among others. Coincidentally, the aforementioned players would all become rivals in her collegiate career, skating for ECAC programs. Of note, Bunton would emerge as one of the Cornell Big Red’s leading scorers, while Moore would anchor the defensive unit at St. Lawrence and Noronha would provide strong leadership with the Dartmouth Big Green.

The ECAC connection was prevalent in another aspect of Yip-Chuck’s junior career. Helping Team Ontario Blue capture its first-ever gold medal in the history of the Canadian U18 women’s nationals, Yip-Chuck was the team captain. Gaining an assist in a key tournament game, eliminating the highly favored Team Ontario Red in the semi-finals, it was among the highlights in her young career.

Several Team Ontario Blue players from that landmark team would also graduate from NCAA hockey during the 2016-17 season. Among some of the seniors that share the Team Ontario Blue heritage with Yip-Chuck included Laura Horwood from RPI, RMU record breaking goaltender Victoria Dodds, Paige Horton, a captain with the Mercyhurst Lakers and All-America selection Brooke Webster, among others.

Akin to her former Wolves teammates, Yip-Chuck would also take on a key leadership role with the Bulldogs. Such a role brought with it significant prestige for her, having the honor of the team captaincy bestowed upon her. With this representing Yale’s 40th anniversary season, she also holds the distinction of being the fifth player born in Ontario to serve as Bulldogs captain, sharing the distinction Jill Tinmouth, Lisa Jacque, Samantha MacLean and former teammate Aurora Kennedy.

Following in the legacy of distinguished captains such as Debbie Weaver, the first captain in program history, two-time captain Katie O’Sullivan, Julianna Schantz-Dunn, a Hockey Humanitarian Award nominee in 2000, former CWHL star Erin Duggan and Aleca Hughes, a former Hockey Humanitarian of the Year Award, Yip-Chuck joins a remarkable group of women that have made their mark on Yale lore, while establishing her own legacy, one built on a solid career of setting the positive example through hard work and devotion to allowing her team a chance to win, key factors that have seen her senior season commemorated by having the “C” adorn her jersey. 

“It's always been important to me to try and do the right things, care for my teammates and lead by example so to be named captain of Yale this past season was such an honour because of the incredible tradition that exists. It was even more special being recognized by my teammates in that way.”

Statistically, Yip-Chuck assembled a series of solid performances on offense this season, displaying a knack for creating scoring opportunities. Her senior season began with back-to-back multi-point efforts, amassing five points in an October 21-22 series with the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers.

With her senior season representing the third straight season of 20 or more points, it also signifies a team scoring title, complemented by career highs in assists (19) points (27), respectively. From her first season, she quickly established herself a key catalyst on offense.

As a freshman, she tied for second on team in goals, while her sophomore season saw her tied again, but this time in the team lead for goals. During her junior season, she showed a remarkably disciplined game with only three penalties, while pacing all Bulldogs in power play goals, respectively.  

Considering that her presence as a foundation for the Bulldogs offense is a significant part of her hockey legacy, Yip-Chuck elaborates that the stat sheet was never her the focal point of her motivation,

“Ironically, I think that I've been able to have some success statistically because that's never been my primary focus. I was definitely aware that my role on the team was to produce, but I just tried to create chances for my team and that was through being the hardest working on the ice, taking pride in my face-offs, and finding opportunities for my linemates. My dad has always told me that if you work hard and play the right way, the points will come.

I have also been fortunate enough to have played with some extremely talented linemates over the past four years, including this past season with Phoebe Staenz and Eden Murray.”

In recognizing the positive impact of playing alongside Staenz, a member of the Swiss national women’s team, and Murray, whose older sister Madi also skated for Yale, along with two other sisters in university hockey, it was only fitting that each experienced a landmark performance in a November 4 tilt with Rensselaer. Consisting of a remarkable five-point outing for both Staenz and Yip-Chuck, which saw the Swiss star record a hat trick, while the Bulldogs captain recorded a career-best four assists, Murray contributed with four points, on the strength of three assists, part of a convincing 7-2 win. As a side note, each recorded a superlative +5 rating in the contest, a game-best.

Rensselaer would prove to be part of another significant career milestone for Yip-Chuck as a January 7, 2017 performance would prove. Reaching the 50-assists plateau in her career, it was one half of an exceptional scoring milestone during the Bulldogs season. While Murray also contributed an assist on the scoring play, forcing overtime against Rensselaer, it was the first career goal for freshman Sophie Veronneau, whose junior hockey roots also consisted of competing in the PWHL.

Following the first admirable effort against Rensselaer in an inspiring senior season, Yip-Chuck built on her career-high five point game, one of the finest during the 2016-17 ECAC season, by assembling a nifty four game scoring streak. Among the highlights, it also included three straight games of multi-point efforts.

In spite of a record of 2-2-0 during said streak, Yip-Chuck’s efforts gained her recognition as the ECAC Player of the Month for November 2016. Joining her in this distinguished group of award recipients included Clarkson’s Michaela Pejzlova as the Rookie of the Month, while New Zealand’s Grace Harrison, a goaltender for St. Lawrence, earned Goaltender of the Month honors.

Recording at least one point in seven games during the month of November, Yip-Chuck amassed an astounding 13 points, consisting of four goals and nine assists. For the month, she sported an outstanding +9 rating, while extending her consecutive games streak to 104. Sadly, an injury would sideline her streak later in the season, forcing her to be inactive for senior night.

By season’s end, Yip-Chuck would bounce back from injury, while finishing with a respectable seven multi-point performances, another career high. Of note, a January 28, 2017 road game against the Brown Bears would signify two final achievements. The last goal of her Bulldogs career took place in said game, along with her final multi-point effort. Staenz would combine with Julia Yetman on her final goal, scored against Brown goaltender Monica Elvin. Coincidentally, Bunton’s final NCAA goal would also take place in a contest where she scored against Elvin.  

Gracing the ice for the postseason, it was an opportunity for the stoic, yet hard-working Yip-Chuck to enjoy an inspiring return. In a career defined by providing tireless leadership, Yip-Chuck reaped the rewards by propelling the Bulldogs back into the playoff picture.

Taking on the nationally ranked St. Lawrence Skating Saints, it allowed one more opportunity for the magical offensive chemistry between Murray, Staenz and Yip-Chuck. With Murray scoring a third period goal, spoiling Harrison’s bid for a shutout, it signified the final assists in the careers of both Staenz and Yip-Chuck, a fitting finish for two of the most impactful Bulldogs over the course of the last four seasons.

For Yip-Chuck, the real victory in the postseason was one of encouragement, instilling confidence in the Bulldog competitors that shall participate in the season to follow. With Murray returning for her senior season, it is an extension of Yip-Chuck’s positive impact. Undoubtedly, such an impact will allow for the future classes an opportunity to build on the positive momentum and continue to aim towards solidifying the program’s standing as one built on excellence.

“When I first came to Yale, I knew that I was buying in to a program that was rebuilding so to see the growth and consistency that has happened since my first day on campus is great. I'm proud to have left a program where the expectation is now to win.”

"All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated"

Photo credits: Sam Rubin, David Silverman/DSPics.com, other images obtained from Twitter

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