Jan. 25, 2007
It's not often that a Yale team gets the chance to measure itself against the No. 1 team in the country, but that's exactly what the women's hockey team will do Friday afternoon at Ingalls Rink. The Bulldogs host No. 1 Mercyhurst in a special 3:00 p.m.matinee, then wrap up the non-conference portion of their schedule by hosting Niagara Saturday (2:00 p.m.). Both games can be heard live and free of charge on WYBC 1340 AM.
Mercyhurst holds an 8-0-1 advantage over Yale in the series between the two teams, with the lone tie coming Jan. 4, 2004 (1-1). The Lakers have won the last four, including a sweep last season at the Mercyhurst Ice Center (6-2 and 4-3). The second game was not decided until 1:10 remained, when Stephanie Jones netted the game-winner for the Lakers. Sophomore forward Crysti Howser scored two goals for Yale, including the game-tying goal with 2:49 remaining. Senior forward Christina Sharun also scored.
The Lakers are the seventh ranked opponent Yale has faced this year, though none of the others were No.1. The Bulldogs have one win in those seven games, knocking off No. 8 UConn 3-0 as part of Yale's Nutmeg Classic championship run. Prior to Friday's game with Mercyhurst, the highest ranking for a Yale opponent this year was No. 6. Dartmouth was in that position when the Big Green beat Yale 4-3 Nov. 17, and St. Lawrence was No. 6 when the Saints beat Yale 7-2 Jan. 12.
Niagara has a 5-1-1 lead in the all-time series with Yale. The Bulldogs picked up a 9-1 win the last time these two teams met (Nov. 26, 2005 in a neutral-site game in Providence, R.I.). Deena Caplette '06 had four points (2-2-4), while Sharun had three (2-1-3).
If recent history is any indication the Bulldogs will rely heavily on the line of Howser, senior forward Jenna Spring and senior forward Sheila Zingler for scoring this weekend. Those three have 48 points in the last nine games and have accounted for 19 of Yale's 35 goals in that span. Zingler has a 10-game scoring streak going, and she and Howser each have 10 points in the last four games.
Yale is also starting to see increased scoring from its freshman defensive pair of Alyssa Clarke and Berit Johnson. Those two have 12 points in the last nine games after totaling two in the first 12 games.
The Bulldogs will likely need to play a very disciplined game against Mercyhurst, because the Lakers' power play is seventh in the country (22.9 percent). The only team to beat Mercyhurst this season, St. Lawrence (3-2 last November), did so by pulling off the remarkable feat of not allowing the Lakers a single power-play opportunity all game. The lone Saints penalty was matched by a Mercyhurst penalty that left both teams skating 4-on-4.
Niagara is 2-2-3 against ECAC teams so far this season, with wins over Colgate and Cornell.