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Go West, Young Bulldogs: Yale Travels to No. 9 Mercyhurst

Natalie Wedell. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Natalie Wedell. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Team Seeks First Road Win

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's ice hockey team kicks off a stretch of four straight games on the road with its longest trek of the year this weekend. The Bulldogs make the 500-mile journey to western Pennsylvania to play a pair of games at No. 9 Mercyhurst (Friday 3:00, Saturday 2:00). There, they will face a Lakers team that is third in the country in both scoring offense (5.00 goals per game) and scoring defense (1.12 goals per game).

Yale (1-8-0, 1-5-0 ECAC Hockey) continues to be led by youth, as three of the team's top five scorers are sophomores and one (leading scorer forward Stephanie Mock (Cape Coral, Fla.), 1-4-5) is a freshman. The freshmen and sophomore classes accounted for 10 of Yale's 16 healthy skaters this past weekend.

The Bulldogs' top goal scorer is sophomore forward Jackie Raines (London, Ont.), who scored a pair in the team's 3-2 overtime win vs. Union last Friday to bring her season total to four. That included the game-winner, helping the Bulldogs to their first victory of the season. Mock and Raines have been united with sophomore forward Jenna Ciotti (Manotick, Ont.) to form Yale's top scoring line the past two games.

With four of the team's defensemen injured, the Bulldogs have had to improvise their defensive pairings. Sophomore forward Ashley Dunbar (Hillsborough, N.J.) played defense last weekend, picking up her first assist of the season in the process. Junior defenseman Natalie Wedell (Arden Hills, Minn.) also got her first assist of the year.

Senior goaltender Genny Ladiges (Almonte, Ont.) continues to be busy. After making 29 saves for the win Friday, she made a career-high 47 Saturday in a loss to RPI -- the second time in the last four games she has made more than 40 saves in a game. Ladiges allowed only three even-strength goals over the weekend.

Mercyhurst (6-2-0, 0-0-0 CHA) has a potent offense that is led by forward Bailey Bram, who has nine goals in eight games for the fourth-best goals-per-game average in the country. Bram, who has played for Canada's Under-22 team, was a 2010 Kazmaier Award Top 10 Finalist. Five-foot-11 forward Kelley Steadman, who was named to the U.S. National Team for the 2011 IIHF Women's World Championship, is right behind Bram with eight goals. Forwards Christine Bestland, who played for Canada's Under-18 team, and Jess Jones are tied for the team lead with eight assists. Defensemen Molly Byrne (0-6-6) and Jill Szandzik (1-5-6) both have six points from the blue line.

Five of Bram's goals have come on the power play, where the Lakers lead the country with a 36.4 percent success rate (12 for 33). The Lakers also lead the nation in penalty killing (93.3 percent, 28 for 30) and have scored three short-handed goals. Goalie Hillary Pattenden leads the nation in save percentage (.957) and is third in the country in goals-against average (1.13). She has four shutouts in seven games.

Friday and Saturday's games are part of doubleheaders, with the Mercyhurst men's team playing Bentley each night at 7:05 p.m.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity