November 24, 2010

Nutmeg Classic Up Next for Bulldogs

Yale Tests Itself against Local Rivals in Annual Tournament

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The seventh annual Nutmeg Classic takes place this weekend at Quinnipiac's TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn., and features the four Division I women's ice hockey teams in Connecticut (the Nutmeg State). Yale opens up with UConn on Friday at 7 p.m., and Quinnipiac plays Sacred Heart earlier that day. The consolation and championship games take place Saturday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively.

Yale (2-6-2, 2-3-1 ECAC Hockey) has won two of its last three games, and has an impressive history in the Nutmeg Classic. The Bulldogs have played in the championship game five times in six years, and won it all in the 2006-07 season.

The Bulldogs have been playing some of their best hockey of late. A goal by junior forward Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.) in overtime last Saturday gave Yale a 3-2 win over Clarkson, marking the Bulldogs' first come-from-behind win of the year. Yale trailed 1-0 and 2-1 but rallied for the win thanks to Hughes' goal and earlier tallies from senior forward Bray Ketchum (Greenwich, Conn.) and sophomore forward Alyssa Zupon (Basking Ridge, N.J.). Since officially being reunited as line mates four games ago, that trio has accounted for five of Yale's nine goals and 55 of Yale's 115 shots.

Ketchum enters the weekend with the team lead in points (2-3-5), followed by three players tied for second: Zupon (3-1-4), junior defenseman Heather Grant (Toronto, Ont.) (1-3-4) and freshman forward Jackie Raines (London, Ont.) (3-1-4).

Junior goalie Genny Ladiges (Almonte, Ont.) made 36 saves in the win over Clarkson, the third time this year she has stopped that many pucks in one game. She has a .929 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average while seeing the majority of the action with senior goalie Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.) sidelined by injury.

UConn (5-7-1, 4-2-1 Hockey East) has been a regular opponent for Yale in the Nutmeg Classic championship game -- the Huskies have beaten the Bulldogs in the title game each of the last three years. This time around the two teams will meet in the first round. UConn brings a four-game winning streak into Friday night's game, and has outscored its opponents 8-2 in that span. The Huskies are 1-2-0 against ECAC Hockey teams so far this year, with a win over Clarkson and losses to Colgate and St. Lawrence.

The Huskies' leading scorer is forward Taylor Gross, a freshman who has five goals and three assists. Goalie Amanda Garcia has a .930 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average.

Quinnipiac (9-6-1, 4-5-0 ECAC Hockey), which plays Sacred Heart at 4 p.m. in the first round Friday, opened the season with five straight wins but has gone 4-6-1 since. The Bobcats have split each of their last three weekends, winning on Friday but losing on Saturday. They already have a 5-0 win over Sacred Heart from earlier in the season.

Forward Kelly Babstock, a freshman, is the Bobcats' leading scorer (13-14-27) and has more 12 points than any other freshman in the country. She also leads the country with five game-winning goals. Defenseman Regan Boulton is tied for the NCAA lead in power-play goals with five. Goalie Victoria Vigilanti has a .926 save percentage and a 1.93 goals-against average. She anchors a defense that is tied for seventh in the country in fewest goals allowed per game (2.00).

Sacred Heart (1-8-0), the only independent Division I women's hockey team in the country, notched its first win of the season Nov. 9 at Holy Cross, 3-2. The Pioneers will have had 13 days off by the time they play Quinnipiac Friday afternoon. They lost to Yale (10-1) and Quinnipiac (11-1) in last year's Nutmeg Classic, the first time they participated.

The Pioneers' offense is led by forward Brittany Hartman, who has four goals and one assist. Goalie Alexius Schutt has a .899 save percentage and a 4.73 goals-against average.

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