Haley Skarupa, a Rockville native and former captain of the Washington Pride Junior Women’s Hockey team, has always been good at hockey. But despite exceeding expectations at every level she has played, the Boston College star was still left off the 2014 Olympic squad headed to Sochi in favor of some more seasoned veterans.
According to WomensHockeyStats.info, a site created by Mike Burse to track advanced stats for women’s hockey, Skarupa has been credited for 2.88 Point Shares during Boston College’s 10-3-1 record — most in the league. Point Shares are an estimate of the number of standings points contributed by a player, so the higher the number, the more the skater’s play is aiding the team’s success. Last season Skarupa was third (6.96) behind Kendall Coyne (9.53) and Alex Carpenter (9.24), both on the short list for the 2014 U.S. women’s Olympic team.
Skarupa is also first in the Hockey East conference for value over replacement (4.17) ahead of teammates Taylor Wasylk (2.02) and Andie Anastos (1.65). Value over replacement player (VORP) is a statistic that measures how many goals contributed and the amount of goals against responsible for in comparison to a player freely available in the talent pool. In the NHL, for example, that would be similar to a player called up from the AHL ranks. Like Point Shares, higher is better.
Using an advanced metric like VORP, adjusted for league and games played in 2012-13, shows that Skarupa is as good or better than some of the current forwards on the Olympic squad.
“Haley is clearly an elite player and the best is yet to come on that big stage. That big, Olympic stage,” said Washington Pride Coach Kush Sidhu.
Skarupa skipped U16 for the tougher competition found at the U19 level and just a few years later won the 2011 JWHL Liz Turgeon Player of the Year award in her third season with the Pride after scoring 102 goals and 154 points in 62 games. She followed up that campaign by registering 148 goals (including 100 goals before the Christmas break) and 191 points in fewer games (57 games played) due to national team commitments, earning her the Player of the Year award for a second straight season.
“Haley was so much better than her teammates and she was gifted from a goal scoring perspective,“ Sidhu recalls. “She is not a big kid, not real flashy, but the puck goes in the net. That kid just finds a way to score. It’s really uncanny.”
In addition to playing for the Washington Pride, Skarupa was part of the U.S. women’s national team. She was selected to join the U.S. women’s national under-18 ice hockey team in 2009, plus was a member of the 2010 (silver) and 2011 (gold) teams during the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Women’s U18 Championships. In 2012 she set the world record for most goals (11) in the tournament while playing for the U.S. national team in the Czech Republic.
“It was an awesome experience all four years,” Skarupa said of her time with the Pride. “I would say it really prepared me for college. We traveled even more than I do now so I had to be able to balance social life, school and hockey while basically traveling every weekend. And you are always playing really high-end teams so I felt like it taught me how to play at that type of level.”
Now at Boston College, the young winger was voted by the Hockey East head coaches as Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Year after scoring 24 goals and 29 assists in 33 games last season. With such a productive campaign under her belt, the opposition is taking notice.
Skarupa “is realizing people know how effective she was last year and I think [opposing teams] are keying on her even more this year,” Boston College Coach Katie King Crowley said. “She’s got bruises everywhere because other teams are coming after her, and that’s something she has done a good job with because that can be physically draining.”
Despite the target on her back, Skarupa won Warrior Hockey co-player of the month honors with seven goals (including two short-handed) and five assists in October and currently leads all Hockey East skaters with 23 points in 14 games, three more points than Vermont’s Amanda Pelkey.
“This year is going to be a telling year for her, but I think Haley is only going to get better,” Crowley said. “She is learning to continue to play with that added pressure. She is a strong kid and will continue to learn how to be strong on her feet.”
Improvement may be on the horizon, but Skarupa already appears to have the two-way game it would take to make the Olympic roster.