Final Weekend at Ingalls Critical for Playoff Hopes

Caroline Murphy, Alyssa Clarke and Berit Johnson. (photo by David Silverman, dspics.com)

Bulldogs Host Colgate and Cornell; Senior Day Saturday for Clarke, Johnson and Murphy

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - With four games left in the regular season, the ECAC Hockey playoff picture remains unclear. One thing is certain, though: the two games at Ingalls Rink this weekend will go a long way towards deciding who is in and who is out. Yale is currently tied with Dartmouth for the eighth and final playoff spot, five points behind seventh-place Princeton. The Bulldogs have a one-point lead on 10th-place Colgate, which visits Friday (7 p.m., Yale All-Access live video, wybc.com). Second-place Cornell, which is within striking distance of first-place Clarkson, comes to town Saturday (4 p.m., Yale All-Access live video, WYBC 1340 AM) for Senior Day as the Bulldogs pay tribute to the Class of 2010.

Yale (9-13-3, 7-10-1 ECAC Hockey) was on a hot streak, winning five of six, until last weekend's visit to Dartmouth and No. 6 Harvard. The Bulldogs dropped both games, and Dartmouth's 4-2 win over Brown on Saturday pulled the Big Green into a tie with Yale for eighth place in the conference standings. Dartmouth has an edge over Yale in the first tiebreaker (head-to-head record).

Despite the two losses there were bright spots for the Bulldogs over the weekend. They were able to get their power play going, converting four of 12 chances. Yale now has at least one power-play goal in six of the last seven games, and those goals have come from four different players: freshman forward Alyssa Zupon (Basking Ridge, N.J.) has three, senior defenseman Alyssa Clarke (Donkin, N.S.) and senior forward Caroline Murphy (Woodstock, Conn.) have two each, and junior forward Bray Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.) has one. Ketchum and freshman defenseman Tara Tomimoto (Calgary, Alta.) have four power-play assists in that span, and senior forward Berit Johnson (Wayzata, Minn.) has two. Four other players have one each.

Ketchum continues to lead the Yale offense with 12 goals and 22 points, followed closely by sophomore forward Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.) (8-8-16). Clarke is a finalist for the upcoming NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge, with fan voting ending Monday.

Like the Bulldogs, Colgate (9-17-4, 5-9-4 ECAC Hockey) has been attempting to battle back from a tough start to the season. The Raiders were just 1-4-3 after their first eight ECAC Hockey games, but wins over Dartmouth, Princeton and St. Lawrence in recent weeks, combined with a tie vs. Cornell, have helped them remain in contention for a playoff spot. Forward Katie Stewart leads ECAC Hockey in goals with 18 is tied for second in points with 33. Brittany Phillips is the Raiders' other top scoring threat, with 11 goals and nine assists.

Colgate endured a stretch of 141:22 without scoring a goal near the end of January, and has since followed that up with three straight nail-biting one-goal games. The Raiders won two of them before having their streak snapped by a 2-1 loss to Quinnipiac in their most recent game. Kimberly Sass and Lisa Plenderleith both continue to see time in goal, with Plenderleith getting the majority of the minutes. She has an .886 save percentage and a 3.38 goals-against average.

The Bulldogs already have one win over the Raiders this season -- a 3-0 victory in Hamilton Dec. 5 in which junior goalie Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.) made 43 saves. In addition to increasing their lead in the standings, a win for the Bulldogs on Friday night would also give Yale the edge on Colgate in the first tiebreaker (head-to-head record) should the Bulldogs and Raiders finish the season tied in the standings.

Cornell (11-8-6, 10-2-6 ECAC Hockey) has emerged as one of the best teams in ECAC Hockey thanks in large part to special teams play. The Big Red leads the conference in both power play (21.4 percent) and penalty killing (96.6 percent). All told Cornell has outscored its opponent 24-6 on special teams and 30-18 when playing at even strength. Forward Chelsea Karpenko is tied for fourth in the country in power-play goals with seven. Staying out of the penalty box will be crucial for Yale; in the only game Cornell has lost in its last eight games, Clarkson beat the Big Red 2-1 in part because the Golden Knights incurred only two penalties.

Forward Catherine White leads Cornell in scoring and has scored at least a point in all but one game since missing games Jan. 5-9 while playing for the Canadian Under-22 team at the MLP Cup. Of her points over that span, 10 have been assists, boosting her season total in that category to a team-leading 20.

The Big Red has two of the top five scoring defensemen in the country in Laura Fortino (9-11-20) and Lauriane Rougeau (6-12-18), both freshmen and also members of Canada's U-22 team. Goalie Amanda Mazzotta is fifth in ECAC Hockey in goals-against average (1.60) and seventh in save percentage (.918). She shut out both Princeton and Quinnipiac last weekend, and all told she has a streak of 140:12 without allowing a goal. She has a school record eight shutouts this year.

Cornell has already clinched a spot in the ECAC Hockey playoffs, but is also seeking its first home playoff series in history. The Big Red enters the weekend with 26 points, and a four-point weekend would assure Cornell of a spot in the league's top four. The top four teams host teams five through eight in the best-of-three quarterfinal playoff series Feb. 26-28.  

There will be a postgame ceremony for Yale's senior class (Clarke, Johnson and Murphy) after Saturday's game. Throughout the weekend, Yale will also be taking donations as part of the athletics department's "Team Up for Haiti" fundraiser.

Upcoming games for teams 7-10 in the ECAC Hockey standings:

Team Pts. (W-L-T) Feb. 12 Feb. 13 Feb. 19 Feb. 20
Princeton 20 (8-6-4) Clarkson St. Lawrence Brown Yale
Dartmouth 15 (7-10-1) at Union at RPI at Clarkson at St. Lawrence
Yale 15 (7-10-1) Colgate Cornell at Quinnipiac at Princeton
Colgate 14 (5-9-4) at Yale at Brown Union RPI

 

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity