Feb. 23, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale Bulldogs know that they will be in the ECACHL playoffs, but much remains to be decided on the final weekend of the regular season -- including the winner of the 2005-06 Ivy Championship.
Before the Bulldogs (10-12-5, 7-7-4 ECACHL, 7th) can start thinking about their shot at the school's first Ancient Eight title Saturday at 4 p.m. at No. 6 Princeton, they must first get past a dangerous foe just 10 miles up I-91 on Friday night at 7 p.m.: Quinnipiac.
The Bobcats (10-17-5, 3-12-3 ECACHL, 10th) spoiled Yale's season opener, winning a shootout after a 2-2 tie in the Nutmeg Classic. Yale's shot at revenge comes nearly four months later at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
The Bulldogs are a different team now compared to the one that took the ice in that first game. Freshmen forwards Crysti Howser and Maggie Westfal were both busy playing soccer that weekend, while junior Kelsey Johnson (defense to forward), junior Nina Resor (defense to forward) and freshman Kristen Stupay (forward to defense) have changed positions.
Stupay had one of Yale's goals against the Bobcats; senior forward Deena Caplette had the other. Caplette enters the final weekend of the season as the Bulldogs' leading scorer (10-12-22). She is sixth on Yale's all-time goals list (39) and third on Yale's all-time assists list (54). Caplette is seven points away from becoming the first Bulldog since 1988, and third overall, to reach the 100-point plateau.
Senior goaltender Sarah Love stopped 25 of 27 shots against the Bobcats, while QU's Connie Craig stopped 30 of 32 Yale tries. Lately Love has played some incredible hockey. She had a streak of 383:17 without an even-strength goal ended last Saturday vs. No. 2 St. Lawrence, and stopped 140 of 143 shots in a six-game stretch Jan. 27 through Feb. 17.
Junior forward Sheila Zingler is another Bulldog who appears ready to end the season on a high note. She has three goals in four games after enduring a 17-game drought. Zingler is fourth on the team in points (6-10-16).
The Bulldogs will need to be at the top of their game against Princeton (17-6-4, 13-3-2 ECACHL, 2nd). In addition to the Ivy title, the Tigers enter the final weekend with a shot at claiming the ECACHL regular-season championship and the home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs that goes with it. Princeton is two points behind ECACHL-leading St. Lawrence, which hosts two tough opponents (No. 10 Harvard and Dartmouth) this weekend.
Princeton is led by junior forward Kim Pearce, who is 11th in the country in points per game (10-26-36 in 27 games). Forward Annie Greenwood's 24 goals place her second in the country amongst freshmen, and she leads the country in power-play goals with 11. Senior goaltender Roxanne Gaudiel is seventh nationally in save percentage (.927).
Pending the weekend's results, Yale can finish anywhere from fifth through eighth in the ECACHL standings. The top four teams host best-of-three quarterfinal matchups Mar. 3-5, with the highest remaining seed then hosting the semifinals and championship Mar. 11 and 12.
In the ECACHL race No. 2 St. Lawrence (30 points) and Princeton (28) have clinched home ice for the quarterfinal round, while No. 8 Clarkson (24) and Brown (23) have the edge on the other two quarterfinal home ice spots. Harvard (22), the fifth-place team, could grab one of those spots if Clarkson or Brown falters.
Dartmouth (19), Yale (18) and Colgate (17) are all jockeying for a favorable playoff matchup on the road with home ice out of the question.
The Ivy League race is much more straightforward, because only two games remain: Brown at Princeton Friday and Yale at Princeton Saturday. With a 5-2-2 record against Ivy opponents, Yale (12 points) is currently atop the league standings. But Brown (11) and Princeton (11) are tied for second, so three scenarios come in to play to determine the title:
If Princeton beats Brown on Friday: Brown would be eliminated and Princeton and Yale would play for the 2006 Ivy League title on Saturday night. In that instance, either team would win the crown with a victory and Princeton would prevail in a tie.
If Brown defeats Princeton on Friday: A Yale victory and the Bulldogs would win the League outright. A Princeton victory over Yale would result in a two-way tie between Princeton and Brown. A Princeton-Yale tie would mean the Bulldogs and Bears would share the crown.
If Brown and Princeton tie on Friday: Brown would be eliminated. Brown, Princeton and Yale would each enter Saturday's games with 12 points. If the Tigers defeat the Bulldogs, they win the League. If the Bulldogs defeat the Tigers, they win the League. If Princeton and Yale tie, the Tigers and Bulldogs would share the crown, each with one point more than Brown.
- Quinnipiac has a broadcast of Friday's game available on-line.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity