Bulldogs Face a Defending National Champion for First Time in School History
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A historic matchup awaits the Yale women's ice hockey team at Ingalls Rink this weekend as the Bulldogs host No. 1 Minnesota for a pair of games (Saturday at 4:00 p.m. and Sunday at Noon). The Golden Gophers have won the last two NCAA Championships, making this the first time in Yale's history that the Bulldogs take on a team that is defending National Champion. Minnesota just had a record setting 62-game winning streak snapped, but still has a 35-game road winning streak intact as it comes to The Whale.
With a sweep at Rensselaer and Union last weekend, Yale (2-5-1, 2-3-1 ECAC Hockey) is coming off its first four-point road trip in ECAC Hockey play since Jan. 11-12 of 2008. The six goals scored vs. Union were the most goals in a game for the Bulldogs since a 10-1 win over Sacred Heart on Nov. 27, 2009.
The Bulldogs continue to benefit from a Jamie on offense and a Jaimie in goal. Offensively, sophomore forward Jamie Haddad (Wilbraham, Mass.) leads the team in points (3-5-8). She had four points (2-2-4) last weekend and is tied for the team lead in goals and assists. Haddad has scored at least one point in three of Yale's last four games. She is one of three players to have accomplished that feat, joined by sophomore forward Janelle Ferrara (Winthrop, Mass.) and freshman defenseman Taylor Marchin (Algonac, Mich.). Led by Haddad and sophomore defenseman Kate Martini (King City, Ont.) (three goals each), Yale's sophomore class has scored eight of the team's 15 goals. Sophomores also have 13 of the team's 27 assists.
Defensively, goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (Montreal, Que.) continues to give her team a chance to win games night-in and night-out. Leonoff made 39 saves on 40 shots in the 2-1 win at Rensselaer last Friday, and has now made 35 or more saves in a game five times in Yale's first eight games. For the season she has a .919 save percentage and a 3.11 goals-against average.
Yale's special teams units have been developing nicely. Three times in the last four games, the Bulldogs' penalty kill unit has killed off every penalty in the game. Yale is also 5-for-16 on the power play in its last four games, representing a dramatic improvement from the start of the season -- in the Bulldogs' first four games of the season they went 0-for-18. Those power play goals in the last four games have come from four different players: two from Martini and one each from Haddad, Marchin and senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto (Calgary, Alta.).
Minnesota (13-1-0, 11-1-0 WCHA) maintained its No. 1 ranking in both national polls this week despite a 3-2 loss to North Dakota last time out. The Golden Gophers received 18 of 19 first-place votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, finishing 25 points ahead of No. 2 Wisconsin (189 to 164). Seven of the top nine teams in that poll are on Yale's schedule this season. The Bulldogs have already played No. 6 Quinnipiac, No. 7 Boston College, No. 8 Clarkson and No. 9 Boston University; later this season they will also face No. 3 Cornell and No. 5 Harvard.
The loss last Sunday was Minnesota's first loss since Feb. 17, 2012 (a 2-1 loss in overtime to North Dakota). With its historic winning streak, Minnesota bested the previous NCAA Division I women's hockey winning streak (21, Harvard) and unbeaten streak (32, Wisconsin, twice), along with surpassing the NCAA Division I men's hockey winning streak (30, RPI and Cornell) and unbeaten streak (38, RPI) records.
Minnesota features the second-best scoring offense in the country (4.29 goals per game) and the third-best power play in the country (30.2 percent). Goaltender Amanda Leveille is fifth in the country in save percentage (.942) and sixth in goals-against average (1.43). Defenseman Rachel Ramsey is sixth in the country in points per game amongst blueliners (6-9-15 in 14 games). Two forwards, Rachel Bona and Hannah Brandt, have already reached the 20-point mark and are tied for ninth in the country in points per game (1.43). Brandt was named the WCHA Preseason Player of the Year after finishing second in the nation in scoring last year (33-49-82).
While Minnesota will be a new opponent for Yale's players, two members of the Yale coaching staff are quite familiar with the Gophers' program. Bulldogs head coach Joakim Flygh and assistant coach Jessica Koizumi were with Minnesota-Duluth (Flygh as an assistant coach, Koizumi as a player), Minnesota's rival, earlier in their careers. UMD beat Minnesota five times in a three-season span from 2004-05 through 2006-07 (5-8-1), when Flygh and Koizumi were both with Duluth.
Yale's roster includes one player from the state of Minnesota, sophomore defenseman Ali Austin (Edina, Minn.).
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Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity