Bulldogs Head to Providence to Start Road Stretch

Nov. 23, 2005

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Last season, Yale had a stretch of eight straight road games that kept the Bulldogs away from Ingalls Rink for nearly two straight months. Things are not quite as rough with this year's schedule, but Friday at Providence (7 p.m., available on GameTracker) is the first of five straight on the road for Yale, part of a span of 47 days between home games. The Bulldogs remain in Providence Saturday to take on Niagara at Schneider Arena in a 4 p.m. game that will be broadcast on-line as USCHO.com's Game of the Week.

The Bulldogs went 1-6-1 during that road stretch last season, and need a better showing this time around to improve on their 2-4-2 (2-2-1 ECACHL) record. This marks the first full week of practice with a complete roster for Yale, as forwards Crysti Howser and Maggie Westfal joined the team just two hours before last Saturday's game against Dartmouth after returning from a women's soccer game at Notre Dame the night before. The two had helped the soccer team to an Ivy League title and its first NCAA College Cup Sweet 16 appearance before falling to the Fighting Irish 5-2. Westfal scored a goal in her first hockey game, assisted by Howser - who also had an assist Friday night in the soccer game.

Providence (6-3-2, 5-1-1 Hockey East) is among the "others receiving votes" in the latest USCHO.com poll and the USA Today/American Hockey poll. The Friars have a four-game unbeaten streak, outscored their last two opponents 10-1, and are unbeaten at home (5-0-2). Senior forward Karen Thatcher is eighth in the nation in points per game (6-10-16 in 11 games, 1.45 per game), followed closely by junior defenseman Kristin Gigliotti (6-9-15 in 11 games, t-13th at 1.36). Senior goaltender Jana Bugden has a .911 save percentage and 2.14 GAA.

The Bulldogs' 5-1 win over the Friars at Ingalls Rink last year made Yale one of only three teams (along with Dartmouth and Minnesota) to beat Providence by four goals or more - and Minnesota's 6-1 win came in the NCAA quarterfinals. Forward Sheila Zingler led the way for Yale with a goal and three assists, while her linemates Kelsey Johnson (1-1-2) and Nicole Symington (1-1-2) also had multiple-point nights. Goaltender Sarah Love stopped 39 of 40 shots for the win.

Special teams figure to be a major factor on Saturday when the Bulldogs play Niagara. The Purple Eagles (3-6-1, 0-2-0 CHA) have had trouble staying out of the box, averaging a nation-high 18.3 penalty minutes per game. They are also just 5-for-55 on the power play (9.1%, 29th of 34 Division I teams) and 65-for-78 on the penalty kill (83.3%). Junior defenseman Candice Boyles leads the team in scoring (1-5-6). Junior goaltender Allison Rutledge has a .921 save percentage and 3.18 goals-against average.

Yale and Niagara have not met since a pair of games at Ingalls Rink Jan. 20 and 21, 2001. After a 4-2 loss in the opener, Yale battled to a scoreless tie in the second game.

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