Battle for Playoff Position Heats Up with Visits from Union, RPI
Bulldogs Currently in Seventh Place
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With just three weekends of regular season games remaining, the Yale women's ice hockey team looks to solidify its hold on a spot in the ECAC Hockey playoffs this weekend as a pair of teams below the Bulldogs in the standings come to Ingalls Rink. Seventh-place Yale hosts 11th-place Union on Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Rensselaer, which is tied for eighth place, on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. With two wins and four points this weekend, the Bulldogs could climb as high as sixth in the standings and get within striking distance of the four home-ice spots in the conference quarterfinals.
Yale (7-12-4, 5-7-4 ECAC Hockey) slipped into seventh place after going 0-2-0 last weekend at No. 6 Cornell and Colgate. The Bulldogs nearly upset the Big Red, holding a pair of leads in the first period and then rallying to tie the game late in the second period on a goal by junior forward Jackie Raines (London, Ont.), but Cornell scored three times in the third period to pull away. The team directly ahead of Yale in the standings, sixth-place Princeton, has a two-point lead on the Bulldogs but faces a tough trip this weekend -- at St. Lawrence and No. 3 Clarkson.
With Yale's leading scorer, freshman forward Phoebe Staenz (Zürich, Switzerland), away playing for Switzerland at the Olympics, Raines generated the majority of Yale's shots last weekend (eight), followed by sophomore defenseman Kate Martini (King City, Ont.) (seven). Four of Martini's shots came on the power play, where she had an assist. The Bulldogs got a pair of power play goals last weekend, including one during a 5-on-3, marking the first time since Nov. 15-16 (at Union and Rensselaer) that the team has scored power play goals in back-to-back games. The power play tallies this past weekend came from sophomore forwards Hanna Åström (Örnsköldsvik, Sweden) and Janelle Ferrara (Winthrop, Mass.).
Ferrara (5-13-18) is now one assist behind Staenz for the team lead in that category. She has more than doubled her assist total from a year ago (six last year, 13 this year), and already has six more points than she had last season (18 this year, 12 last year). Yale's sophomore forwards, including Åström, Ferrara, and Jamie Haddad (Wilbraham, Mass.) have combined for 18 goals, 29 assists and 47 points this year after totaling 15 goals, 16 assists and 31 points last season.
Senior defenseman Aurora Kennedy (Mississauga, Ont.) leads Yale in +/- with a +8, followed by Ferrara at +7. Junior goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (Montréal, Québec) has a .921 save percentage and a 2.86 goals against average. Her seven wins this season are the most by a Yale goalie since Jackee Snikeris '11 had seven in 2010-11.
Union (8-19-1, 3-13-0 ECAC Hockey) enters the weekend with a seven-game losing streak, and has gone seven straight periods without scoring a goal. The Dutchwomen do have three ECAC Hockey conference wins already this year, the most in school history (the team joined the conference in 2003-04). They have knocked off Brown, Dartmouth and Princeton. The team also has set the school record for overall wins this season with eight.
Defenseman Maddy Norton leads Union in points (2-15-17), while forward Kathryn Tomaselli leads the team in goals (11-3-14). Union has the fifth-best power play in the country (19.3 percent), led by six goals from forward Stefanie Thomson. Goalie Shenae Lundberg has a .904 save percentage and a 2.82 goals-against average.
Rensselaer (10-15-2, 6-9-1 ECAC Hockey), which plays at Brown on Friday, enters the weekend with a four-game losing streak in which the team has been outscored 14-5. The Engineers outshot Yale 40-12 the last time these two teams met, including five shots by forward Toni Sanders, but the Bulldogs came away with a 2-1 win thanks to 39 saves by Leonoff and goals from freshman defenseman Taylor Marchin (Algonac, Mich.) and freshman forward Krista Yip-Chuck (Whitby, Ont.).
Forwards Alexa Gruschow and Jordan Smelker are tied for the RPI team lead in points with 17. Forward Lauren Wash leads the team in goals with 11. Goalie Kelly O'Brien has a .911 save percentage and a 2.11 goals-against average.
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Report by Sam Rubin '95 (email@example.com), Yale Sports Publicity