Entering into the season freshman goaltender Jessica Ruddock expected to share time in goal with one or two other goalies and the starter to be determined on a game-by-game basis. Yet, the No. 3 Harvard women's hockey team goes into the Frozen Four this weekend with Ruddock--the nation's leader in freshman goals-against average--starting in goal.
Originally from Guelph, Ontario, Ruddock attended the Taft School last year, but could not play hockey due to a knee injury and instead served out the year as a coaching assistant. It was hard to know what to expect from the Ontario champion going into this season.
"It's been tough coming into this year," Ruddock said. "I missed last year completely and I haven't missed a full year since I started playing when I was three or four years old. The training staff has been really supportive and helpful."
Yet these difficulties have not kept Ruddock from earning her starting spot for the Crimson, nor has it kept her from reeling in honors. She is a three-time ECAC Rookie of the Week as well as a three-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week. She also earned All-Ivy Honorable Mention.
Concerns had been voiced about Ruddock's youth and inexperience at the college level with regard to starting in high-pressure games, but Ruddock has been able to shake off the anxieties along the way.
Ruddock has had little margin for error during her rookie season, being thrown into a highly-ranked team alongside the nation's most notable players. Yet, her burdens are those of a collegiate goaltender rather than those of a freshman.
"Being a freshman hasn't been a big deal at all," Ruddock said. "There are no class divisions. I've had a lot of support from the whole team, especially from the seniors. I'm trying to deal with pressure as a goaltender."
Ruddock seems to have dealt with the pressure well, as proven by her statistics this season. She has a record of 17-5-0 and an impressive goals-against-average of 2.03. Ruddock's .917 save percentage is second in the nation to St. Lawrence's Rachel Barrie among freshman, and she was clocked more minutes in goal than any other freshman goalie in the ECAC.
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