Last Regular-Season Road Trip Takes Yale to No. 10 QU, Princeton

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Hanna Åström. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Enter Weekend in Seventh Place

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's ice hockey team makes the final regular-season road trip of the season this weekend, and the Bulldogs' results at No. 10 Quinnipiac (Friday, 7:00 p.m., ESPN3) and Princeton (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.) will go a long way towards determining where they are the weekend of Feb. 28 -- when the ECAC Hockey playoffs start. Yale enters the weekend in seventh place, one point ahead of eighth-place Rensselaer and two points ahead of ninth-place Dartmouth. The Bulldogs still could finish anywhere from in the top four (in which case they would host a quarterfinal playoff series) to out of the playoffs entirely.

Yale (7-13-5, 5-8-5 ECAC Hockey) is seven points behind Quinnipiac for the fourth and final home ice spot in the conference quarterfinals. The Bulldogs must finish in the top eight to earn a spot in the playoffs (teams one through four host teams five through eight in the best-of-three quarterfinal series).

The Bulldogs are coming off a 2-2 overtime tie with Rensselaer in which both of the Yale goals came on the power play (one from junior forward Jackie Raines (London, Ont.) and one from sophomore defenseman Kate Martini (King City, Ont.)). That marked the most power play goals in a game for Yale since scoring three in a 6-4 win at Union Nov. 16. The Bulldogs now have four power play goals in the last four games after going five games without a power play tally.

Yale has already won more games this season (seven) than it did in the two previous seasons combined. The Bulldogs are averaging 2.28 goals per game, their highest average since the 2006-07 team averaged 3.10 goals per game. Yale's penalty kill is operating at an .800 success rate, the team's best since an .868 in 2010-11.

Yale's top five scorers are freshmen and sophomores, led by freshman forward Phoebe Staenz (Zürich, Switzerland) (9-14-23). Staenz is currently playing for her native Switzerland in the Olympics, and her Swiss team will have a quarterfinal game on Saturday.

Besides Staenz, seven other Bulldogs (three sophomores, two other freshmen, one senior and one junior) have already reached double digits in points. This is the first time Yale has had that many double-digit scorers since the 2007-08 team (which also had eight). With 22 goals from the freshman class -- including nine from Staenz, seven from forward Krista Yip-Chuck (Whitby, Ont.), four from defenseman Taylor Marchin (Algonac, Mich.) and one each from forwards Abby Gahm (Eagle River, Alaska) and Gretchen Tarrant (Colchester, Vt.) -- Yale has gotten more goals from freshmen than any other ECAC Hockey school (St. Lawrence is second with 17). In fact, Staenz by herself has more goals than the freshman classes at four ECAC Hockey schools.

Senior defenseman Aurora Kennedy (Mississauga, Ont.) leads Yale in +/- at +7. It has been five years since a Yale player finished a season with a +/- of +7 or higher. Sophomore forward Janelle Ferrara (Winthrop, Mass.) is right behind Kennedy with a +6. Kennedy is part of a group of three skaters for the Bulldogs -- along with Yip-Chuck and sophomore forward Hanna Åström (Örnsköldsvik, Sweden) -- who have appeared in all 25 games and incurred four or fewer penalties.

Junior goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (Montréal, Québec) allowed only three even-strength goals this past weekend, and has a .920 save percentage for the season. She has already faced Quinnipiac twice this year -- including once at the TD Bank Sports Center in the Nutmeg Classic -- and has totaled 77 saves on 80 shots in those games (.963). That included 44 saves in a scoreless overtime tie at Ingalls Rink Nov. 9.

Quinnipiac (17-5-8, 8-4-6 ECAC Hockey), which is winless in its last three games and 2-3-3 since Jan. 7, features the No. 10 scorer in the country in forward Kelly Babstock. She has 40 points (15-25-40) in 30 games, an average of 1.33 points per game. Babstock, who is +22 this season, was a first team All-ECAC Hockey selection last season. Bobcats forward Shiann Darkangelo, a former USA Hockey Under-18 team member who transferred to Quinnipiac from Syracuse, is tied for 10th in the country in goals per game with 18 in 30 games.

Bobcats goalie Chelsea Laden is sixth in the country with a 1.43 goals-against average and 14th in the country with a .928 save percentage. She has six shutouts, helping Quinnipiac to rank fifth in the country in scoring defense (1.47 goals per game).

Quinnipiac is 11-2-4 at the TD Bank Sports Center this season. The arena will host the NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Frozen Four on Mar. 21 and 23.

Princeton (12-9-4, 8-7-3 ECAC Hockey), which hosts Brown Friday night, enters the weekend with a three-game unbeaten streak and has gone 7-3-2 since Dec. 6. The sixth-place Tigers have a four-point lead on Yale in the standings.

Nine Princeton players have double-digit point totals, led by forward Denna Laing (11-10-21). Three of Laing's goals have been short-handed.

Tigers goalie Kimberly Newell, a former member of Canada's Under-18 Team, has a .908 save percentage and a 2.70 goals-against average. She stopped 34 of 36 shots in Princeton's 3-2 win over the Bulldogs Nov. 8.

 

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

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