By Meghan Price, Staff Writer
The UConn women’s ice hockey team’s season started off with a bang, with a two-game set against Minnesota Duluth that landed goaltender Elaine Chuli her third Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honor, after she tallied a total of 86 saves overall in both contests.
Chuli has proven to be a crucial part of the team’s defense, recording an overall 257 saves so far in the 2014-15 season.
Chuli, a junior from Waterford, Ontario has served as a key player for UConn defense since her freshman year, during which she was featured in 27 games and recorded a .893 save percentage. Chuli added two shutouts to the list of her accomplishments during her sophomore year, along with a .929 save percentage, the third highest in UConn history. Head coach Chris Mackenzie noted at a press conference earlier this season that Chuli’s focus and work ethic has always been a key to her success
“This year, what I think she is really focused on is controlling the things she can control,” MacKenzie said. “There’s certain things in a game and during the week, but she really is controlling her effort and not letting things in life or things in hockey, like a bad call, affect her game.”
Chuli was crucial in several matchups so far this season, blocking 25 of 26 shots taken in a neck-and-neck 2-1 win against Colgate in which Emily Snodgrass scored the winning goal with five seconds remaining in regulation. She also notched 35 more saves in goal against Maine, allowing the Huskies to finish their WHEA opener in a 3-3 draw.
Although Chuli has astounded players and fans alike so far this season with her capability to stop the puck, it isn’t lost on MacKenzie that for the remainder of the season, Chuli shouldn’t have to work as hard to carry the defense.
“We depend on her, I think we depend on her too much and it would be nice if we didn’t give her so much work at times,” Mackenzie said. “With the work she puts in on a daily basis, it doesn’t surprise me when we see the success and awards she receives.”