January 13, 2013

Chase for Playoff Spot Heats Up with Pair of Games vs. Brown

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Bulldogs Host Bears Thursday, Travel to Providence Saturday

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – There are still six weeks of ECAC Hockey games left on the schedule, but the two games that the Yale women's ice hockey team plays this week may very well have the feel of a playoff series. The Bulldogs square off against travel partner Brown twice (Thursday, 7:00 at Ingalls Rink and Saturday, 7:00 at Meehan Auditorium) and both teams are in need of points to move into one of ECAC Hockey's eight playoff spots.

Yale (2-14-1, 1-8-1 ECAC Hockey) is coming off a frustrating stretch of four games; the Bulldogs have lost all four, but three have been by just one goal (and the other was a one-goal game heading into the third period). The Bulldogs' four one-goal losses in conference play are particularly tough -- if they had gotten just four points out of those games they would be in a playoff spot right now.

As it is, Yale and Union are tied for 11th in the ECAC Hockey standings with three points, one point behind Brown and Colgate. Princeton, which has six points, currently holds the eighth and final playoff position. But the Tigers have played four games more than all four teams below them in the standings, so the playoff chase should get even closer as Princeton takes the next two weekends off for exams.

The Bulldogs continue to get excellent work in net, and last weekend showcased Yale's depth as senior Erin Callahan (Kenilworth, Ill.) filled in for injured sophomore Jaimie Leonoff (Montreal, Que.) and made 37 saves Friday night against St. Lawrence. Leonoff was back Saturday afternoon and made 39 saves against No. 6 Clarkson, including 14 on six penalty kills. In her last four games Leonoff has stopped 150 of 159 shots, a .943 save percentage. She has been particularly effective at Ingalls Rink, averaging 39 saves per game at home (35 on the road).

Freshman forward Janelle Ferrara (Winthrop, Mass.) scored Yale's lone goal the past weekend, upping her season total to six. That is already more than all but one player from a year ago, and she is just the third Bulldog freshman in the last four seasons to have scored that many. She remains tied for the team lead in points (10) with freshman defenseman Kate Martini (King City, Ont.), who already has more assists this season (seven) than any Yale defenseman from last season. Martini is on pace for 12 assists, the most by a Yale blueliner since U.S. Olympian Helen Resor '09 had 14 in 2008-09.

Yale had a six-game winning streak in the series vs. Brown snapped last year, when the Bulldogs lost to the Bears 4-1 in New Haven Jan. 4 and then by that same score in Providence 20 days later. Junior forward Ashley Dunbar (Hillsborough, N.J.) and defenseman Heather Grant '12 provided Yale's goals. The Bulldogs were hurt by going a combined 0-for-7 on the power play, while allowing Brown's power play unit to go 3-for-7.  

In its second season with Amy Bourbeau as head coach, Brown (3-11-1, 2-8-0 ECAC Hockey) has experienced growing pains. The Bears were 7-7-7 after their first 21 games under Bourbeau last year, but are 4-20-1 since. This season they endured an eight-game winless streak (0-7-1) that spanned more than a month until it was snapped by a 1-0 win at Union Dec. 8. 

Brown features one of the more dynamic goaltending duos in the country, as both Katie Jamieson and Aubree Moore have seen significant action. Jamieson, who stopped 25 of 26 shots against Yale last year, has a .905 save percentage and a 3.08 goals-against average this year. Moore was the team MVP last season and stopped 24 of 25 shots when she faced the Bulldogs. In addition to being first team All-Ivy League and third team All-ECAC Hockey, she was one of three finalists for ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year. She also has played on the U.S. Under-18 National Team. This year she has a .936 save percentage and a 1.81 goals-against average.

Forward Alena Polenska (4-4-8), a native of the Czech Republic who captained the Czech National Team at the 2012 IIHF Women's World Championship, leads Brown in scoring. Forward Laurie Jolin (3-4-7) and defenseman Lauren Vella (3-4-7) are tied for second.

 

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

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