Jan. 4, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale starts 2007 with one of only three road trips left on the regular-season schedule, visiting ECAC opponents Union (Saturday, 2:00 p.m.) and Rensselaer (Sunday, 2:00 p.m.). The Bulldogs are currently tied for eighth place in the conference, two points behind RPI. Live stats will be available on-line for both games, and the RPI game is scheduled to be broadcast by WRPI 91.5 FM.
Yale is coming off winning the Nutmeg Classic championship but must quickly turn its attention to the conference standings. Only eight teams make the ECAC playoffs, so the Bulldogs must start picking up some points to assure themselves of games past Feb. 17.
Yale is unbeaten in eight games all-time against Union (4-12-0, 0-8-0 ECAC, t-11th), including a sweep (6-0 and 9-1) last February at Ingalls Rink. Sophomore forward Crysti Howser (Wilmette, Ill.) had seven points (3-4-7) in the two games.
The improved Dutchwomen have already exceeded their victory total for all of last season, and three of their losses were by two or fewer goals. Senior forward Elise Nichols is tied for seventh in the conference in goals (11-3-14). Sophomore goaltender Alex Zirbel is second in saves (375).
Rensselaer is in its first season in the ECAC, so there is little history between the Engineers and the Bulldogs. They did meet in 2001 and 2002, when RPI was a Division III school. The Bulldogs won both of those games, 8-0 and 6-0. The Engineers moved up to Division I last season, playing as an independent, and registered the fourth-highest winning percentage (.731) in the country. Against common opponents this year (BC, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Quinnipiac) RPI is 2-5 (outscored 25-17) and Yale is 3-5 (outscored 24-23).
RPI is a disciplined team that has accumulated only 210 penalty minutes this season, the second-best total in the ECAC. That stat could exacerbate the fact that, while Yale is fifth in the conference in power-play percentage (.164), the Bulldogs have drawn a league-low 55 penalties from their opponents this season. Yale's nine power-play goals are thus tied for 11th in the 12-team conference.
Freshman forward Whitney Naslund leads the Engineers in scoring (6-13-19) and is tied for 10th in the conference. Fellow freshman forward Allysen Weidner (7-10-17) is not far behind her. Forty-five of RPI's 63 goals on the year have come from freshmen and sophomores.
The Bulldogs have racked up some impressive offensive numbers of their own recently, scoring 18 goals in their last five games (3.60 per game) after tallying 21 through the first nine (2.33 per game). Howser, who was named MVP of the Nutmeg Classic, has been one of the driving forces behind that stat. She missed the first four games while playing soccer for Yale and now has seven points (4-3-7) in her last five games. Freshman forward Mandi Schwartz (Wilcox, Sask.) has also continued to emerge as an offensive threat for Yale, scoring five points (3-2-5) in her last four games.
Junior goaltender Shivon Zilis (Markham, Ont.) won the Laurie Belliveau Award as the top goaltender in the Nutmeg Classic, stopping 48 of 51 shots over the course of two games. She now has made 28 or more saves in a game seven times in 12 games played.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (email@example.com), Yale Sports Publicity