Tenth Annual Nutmeg Classic Up Next for Bulldogs

Paige Decker. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Paige Decker. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Team Seeks Tournament Title

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's ice hockey team makes a quick return to the ice after Thanksgiving, taking on UConn in the first round of the 10th annual Nutmeg Classic at 1:00 p.m. Friday at Quinnipiac's TD Bank Sports Center. The annual tournament features three women's ice hockey teams from the state of Connecticut ("the Nutmeg State") -- Quinnipiac, UConn and Yale. The fourth team this season is Rochester Institute of Technology.

Yale (2-7-1, 2-3-1 ECAC Hockey) lost a pair of games to No. 1 Minnesota at Ingalls Rink last weekend, but had a number of bright spots. Junior goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (Montreal, Que.) made a season-high 48 saves Sunday, shutting the Golden Gophers out for the final 36:20. On Saturday freshman goalie Hanna Mandl (Nobleton, Ont.) shut Minnesota out in the third period, stopping all 19 shots she faced. Yale scored a pair of goals against the Golden Gophers, by sophomore forward Hanna Åström (Örnsköldsvik, Sweden) on Saturday and sophomore forward Janelle Ferrara (Winthrop, Mass.) on Sunday. The Bulldogs were a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill on Saturday, the fourth time in the last six games they have killed off every penalty in a game.

Sophomore forward Jamie Haddad (Wilbraham, Mass.) leads Yale in points (3-5-8). Ferrara and freshman forward Phoebe Staenz (Zurich, Switzerland) are tied for second with seven points each. Staenz has five points in the last four games, since she returned from playing for her native Switzerland at the Smile Japan Bridgestone Blizzak Challenge in Tokyo -- where she scored a pair of goals in Switzerland's 3-2 overtime win vs. Germany in the first game of the tournament.

Sophomore defenseman Kate Martini (King City, Ont.), who is tied for Yale's team lead in goals with three (along with Haddad and freshman forward Krista Yip-Chuck (Whitby, Ont.)), was named to the Nutmeg Classic All-Tournament Team last year. Her efforts in last year's tournament included three points (two goals, including the game-winner in overtime) in the Bulldogs' 4-3 first-round victory vs. UConn.

The Bulldogs have one player from the state of Connecticut on their roster, senior forward Paige Decker (New Preston, Conn.). Decker played for the Connecticut Polar Bears while growing up.

Last year marked the seventh time in the Nutmeg Classic tournament's nine years that the Bulldogs advanced to play for the tournament title; however, they have won the title just once (2006). UConn has won four titles and Quinnipiac has won three. Boston College won the title last year.


UConn (4-8-2, 1-4-1 Hockey East) is 3-1-1 vs. ECAC Hockey teams this season, including a sweep of Rensselaer and a split with Colgate. The Huskies tied Brown 1-1 in overtime on Nov. 19. Forward Sarah McDonnell, a former Under-18 team player for Canada, leads UConn in goals and points (5-8-13). Elaine Chuli (.904 save percentage, 3.79 goals-against average), another former Under-18 team player for Canada, and Sarah Moses (.911, 3.37) have split time in goal.

Later in the day Friday, No. 8 Quinnipiac (10-2-4, 3-2-3 ECAC Hockey) plays RIT. The Bobcats and Yale played to a scoreless tie earlier this month at Ingalls Rink, thanks in part to 44 saves from Leonoff and a 3-for-3 performance by the Bulldogs' penalty kill unit.

Quinnipiac's week also includes a game at Princeton Tuesday night. Forward Kelly Babstock (10-12-22) leads the Bobcats in scoring, and her five power play goals are tied for first in the nation. Her 86 career goals lead all active NCAA players. Goalie Chelsea Laden has a .947 save percentage (fourth in the nation) and a 1.07 goals-against average (third in the nation). She already has five shutouts this season, trailing only Clarkson's Erica Howe (seven) nationally. As a team the Bobcats are fourth nationally in scoring defense (1.19 goals per game).

RIT (8-6-1, 4-1-1 CHA) just had a five-game unbeaten streak snapped with a 3-2 loss to Mercyhurst. Forward Kourtney Kunichika leads the team in scoring (5-7-12). Goalie Ali Binnington has a .933 save percentage and a 1.97 goals-against average. Binnington made 21 saves in RIT's 3-0 shutout of Yale last season.

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