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Framingham native Savard is elected captain at Yale

Hockey forward was also star at Milton Academy

The figure skating lessons didn't last long, not with her two brothers playing hockey.

At age 5, Framingham's Kristin Savard wanted to emulate her brothers. Now, her hockey skills have taken her a long way -- to the captaincy of the Yale University women's hockey team for the 2006-2007 season.

''When Kristin started figure skating, she used to skate to the boards and then wait for all the other girls to catch up," recalled her mother, Janet. ''There was just too much standing around for her. So we enrolled her in the town's youth hockey program as a beginner. Our plan was for her to return to figure skating. But her goal was to play hockey."

Savard, a forward who was formally introduced as Yale captain at a team banquet on April 18, is a three-year letter-winner for the Bulldogs.

Her college coach, Hilary Witt, thinks that the former Milton Academy star will do just fine in her leadership role.

''She's going to be a great captain," said Witt, who noted that Savard was elected captain by her teammates. ''The thing about Kristin is she leads by example. She works hard and is a team player." Witt said Savard's love for the game and the passion she plays with go beyond expectations, which makes her a pleasure to coach.

Savard, who will live in Chicago for part of the summer and work for Imagine Chicago, an organization that promotes civic projects and partnerships, is already thinking about ways to improve her game as she enters her final season at Yale.

''There are always things to work on," said Savard, who was third in team scoring this past season (7 goals and 13 assists) and was selected to the Eastern College Athletic Conference All-Star team. ''I feel I've become a better player because I've learned the system really well. And as an athlete, you have to learn to manage your time well because of the academic demands of an Ivy League school.

''Our primary goal for next season is to be more consistent than we were this season. In games against Brown and Harvard we saw our true potential, and if we can play at that level more consistently, we will have a very successful season. We'll have talent and depth next year [15 of 17 starters are returning, as is sophomore Helen Resor, who spent last year with the US Olympic team]. We've already started training this spring, and we're hoping to come back faster and stronger and ready to play by October."

Savard, who was coached in youth hockey by her father, Jim, has played a lot of hockey over the years for and against boys' teams, and that experience, she said, not only improved her skating, but also prepared her well for the pace of prep school and college hockey.

''To think of how she started out as a 5-year-old before girls' hockey had really taken off and to become captain at Yale . . . I wouldn't have believed it back then," said Jim Savard, who has coached youth hockey in Framingham for 15 years. ''Kristin had two things going for her. She had an understanding of the game and she was a hard worker. A great kid to coach."

The Savards, who also have three sons, get to most of Kristin's college games. One of their favorite memories is of Kristin scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime to help the Framingham Squirt team win the state championship nearly a decade ago.

At Milton Academy, Savard was an All-Independent School League selection in hockey for four seasons and was honored as team MVP.

She was All-ISL as the captain of Milton Academy's field hockey team, which won the New England prep championship in 2001. She also played lacrosse for two seasons and was on the track team for one season.

Before entering Yale, Savard played for the Concord, Mass.-based Assabet Valley club program, where she was part of a national championship team. Her coach at Assabet was Tom Resor, whose two daughters and niece are teammates of Savard's at Yale.

A political science major and two-time ECAC Hockey League All-Academic selection, Savard was named to the ECAC All-Rookie team as a freshman, when she led the Bulldogs in goals (14) and points (22). She scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Maine in her first college game. The following summer, Savard earned a berth on the USA Hockey Women's Festival roster and played with and against several US Olympians in a round-robin tournament.

Savard has been a major figure in the team's resurgence.

Yale has as many wins in the past three seasons (39) as in the prior six seasons combined. Yale won a school-record 16 games during Savard's sophomore season, when the Bulldogs advanced to the conference semifinals for the first time in school history. Savard had 9 goals and 14 assists that season and was presented with the Coach's Award for grit and determination.

That season also featured Yale's first win against Harvard since 1984, the year before Savard was born. And Yale's 4-2 decision against Princeton in the 2004-2005 regular-season finale earned the Bulldogs home ice advantage for the conference quarterfinals for the first time since the women's varsity ice hockey team was started 29 years ago.

Savard, whose community service efforts have included tutoring and volunteering with Relay for Life, is looking forward to her summertime venture with Imagine Chicago. Her specific project is to help promote maternal health. She might also go to South Africa later in the summer to take part in a related volunteer effort.

But she won't put away the skates despite a change of seasons and venue. ''One of my teammates is from Chicago," said Savard, ''so we'll be skating together there."

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