“She lives and breathes hockey;” Quinnipiac sends goalie Ives to pro ranks


Photos: Quinnipiac Athletics; Graphic: Q30 Sports

Connor Ullathorne

Interview: Abbie Ives

Interview: Amanda Mazzotta

Story: Connor Ullathorne

Double overtime. A deafening, packed-to-the-brim Hobey Baker Arena. Three orange jerseys fly up the ice, unopposed. Only one blue jersey crouches in front of them — it’s number 35. That was the final shot she faced in her collegiate career.

Abbie Ives didn’t save that shot. Three-on-oh, against three of the best players in the country, Princeton’s Sarah Fillier found the back of the net to lift the Tigers to the ECAC Hockey semifinals.

She didn’t know it then, but it won’t be the last shot that Ives faces between the pipes.

Ives, one of the foremost goaltenders in Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey history, signed a professional contract with the Connecticut Whale of the National Women’s Ice Hockey League on Thursday.

An assistant captain and the Most Valuable Player for the 2019-20 Bobcats, Ives has spent her past four years in Hamden and grew up in Bedford Hills, New York, a town close to the Connecticut and New York border.

“I’m from about an hour away [from Hamden] so I’ve really played hockey in Connecticut my whole life,” Ives told Q30 Sports. “I have so many connections here and so many friends here, so that’s pretty much the main reason that I chose the Whale to sign with.”

Ives becomes the third goalie to join the Whale from the Bobcats, after Sydney Rossman and Chelsea Laden, who have both moved on from the sport. Fellow 2020 Quinnipiac alumnus Sarah-Eve Coutu-Godbout signed with the NWHL’s Toronto Six on May 7, where she will team up with former Bobcats Emma Greco, Kelly Babstock and Shiann Darkangelo. Ives said she spoke to many former Quinnipiac players to figure out what her next move should be.

“I kind of talked to them to see what they thought about different pro hockey,” Ives said. “I talked a lot to Emma, she played in China and then she played in Sweden. I talked to her and [Rossman] who played for the Whale, and she kind of told me that she thought I should do it, she had a lot of fun playing in the NWHL. It’s cool that a bunch of them are going to be playing for Toronto, so I’ll get to see them.”

Though Ives may not have known until recently that she would be joining the fraternity of Bobcats in the pros, it was clear to anyone who had spent any amount of time around her that she would continue to play after her collegiate career came to an end.

“Abbie is the type of person that lives and breathes hockey,” Quinnipiac goaltender coach Amanda Mazzotta told Q30 Sports. “So we knew that she was going to continue to play regardless of where it ended up being.”

Mazzotta said Ives was so technically sound that she really did not have to work with her on that side of the game. Mazzotta, a former four-year goalie with ECAC Hockey rival Cornell, said they would focus on understanding game flow and situational awareness, such as when to cover a puck and get a whistle instead of playing it to a teammate. The subtle moments helped Ives to focus and execute during the 60 minutes on the ice.

“I think this year she really honed in on just executing her game, day in and day out, and not letting any outside factors interrupt her,” Mazzotta said. “Whether it was the standings, whether it was her statistics compared to other goalies in the country, whether it was where we were ranked nationally or any of those things. I think she kind of put all of those things aside and was able to just really focus on playing her best hockey every day.”

Ives’ work ethic was on display throughout her time at the university. She was the typical “arrive early, leave late” leader. While she was not always the loudest in the locker room, she let her play do the talking instead.

“Abbie is the type of person that lives and breathes hockey.” — Amanda Mazzotta

Over her three years as a starter, Ives’ save percentage went from .921 as a sophomore to .927 her senior year. She finished her career in the top five in program history in shutouts (12), wins (43), save percentage (.926), goals against average (1.79) and saves (2,231). Mazzotta brought that all back to her work ethic.

“Abbie’s a little bit crazy,” Mazzotta said. “Like if we would have let her go on the ice for an hour every morning of every day of the week she would.”

While Ives has dominated on the ice, Mazzotta asserts that Ives is even better off the ice. She takes the right steps to ensure she succeeds at her craft, and that all starts from the simple tasks.

“I think she’s learned how to take care of her body,” Mazzotta said. “How to eat right, how to train, how to stretch, rehab, all of those things. So, I hope that she can kind of maintain that elite 24-hour athlete aspect.”

The elite 24-hour athlete says she couldn’t have done it without the people around her. Not just her teammates, but the people behind the scenes, like Quinnipiac head coach Cassandra Turner, assistant coaches Eddie Ardito and Mazzotta, and strength and conditioning coach Brijesh Patel, who is still sending her workouts to do at home while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can’t thank them enough for truly everything they’ve done for me,” Ives said. “They’ve helped me so much to just grow as an athlete and as a person. I guess the good news is that I’ll still be in Connecticut, and I’m sure I’ll be at a lot of Quinnipiac games and I’m sure I’ll keep in touch with all of them pretty closely.”

The Connecticut Whale just landed one of the hardest workers to come through the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey program in recent years. They signed a person so devoted to her craft it inspires people around her to be better. They signed a leader, a person who took the “A” on her chest to a new level.

And who knows? The last time a Quinnipiac goalie entered the NWHL, Rossman, she was named an all-star in her first season. Lovisa Selander, a former RPI standout, played her first year in the league with the Boston Pride last season, and was named the Goaltender of the Year. 

Maybe it’s just something about ECAC Hockey goalies. They’re just that good.