ECAC Hockey Playoffs Will be a Battle in Beantown for Bulldogs

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Yale celebrates a goal by Jackie Raines. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Yale Faces No. 5 Harvard in Best-of-Three Quarterfinals

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After going unbeaten against No. 5 Harvard in the regular season, the Yale women's ice hockey team now heads to Massachusetts to take on the Crimson in the ECAC Hockey Championship quarterfinals. The Bulldogs (seeded seventh) and the Crimson (seeded second) will play a best-of-three series (Friday 7:00, Saturday 4:00, Sunday 4:00 if necessary) at Bright-Landry Hockey Center to determine which team advances to the semifinals. The team that wins the ECAC Hockey Championship tournament receives the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. This is Yale's first appearance in the tournament since 2008.

Yale (8-14-7, 6-9-7 ECAC Hockey) tied the Crimson 3-3 in overtime when these two teams met at Ingalls Rink last Friday, coming within 76 seconds of a win in regulation before a late goal by Harvard knotted things up. That was part of a four-game unbeaten streak for the Bulldogs, a streak that was snapped by a 2-1 loss to Dartmouth in the regular season finale the next afternoon. The tie vs. the Crimson gave Yale its first unbeaten regular season vs. Harvard since the 2005-06 season.

Earlier in the season the Bulldogs won 2-0 at Bright-Landry Hockey Center, one of just two home losses all season by the Crimson (the other was a 2-1 loss to No. 3 Clarkson on Feb. 14). Yale outshot Harvard 31-29, and junior goaltender Jaimie Leonoff (Montréal, Qué.) made 29 saves to become the first Bulldog goalie to shut out Harvard since 1980. That was also Yale's first road win vs. Harvard since 1981. The Bulldog goals came from junior forward Jackie Raines (London, Ont.) and sophomore defenseman Kate Martini (King City, Ont.). Yale held Harvard scoreless on five power plays in the game.

With 69 goals this season, the Bulldogs have had their best offensive output since scoring 70 goals in 2007-08. The team's 110 assists are the most since 2006-07 (146). The team's top five scorers are all freshmen and sophomores, led by freshman forward Phoebe Staenz (Zürich, Switzerland). Staenz, who just returned from winning a bronze medal with Switzerland in the Olympics, has made a major impact at Yale despite missing 12 games due to her national team responsibilities. She currently leads the team in points, is second in assists and is tied for second in goals (9-14-23). Only seven players in the country have a better points-per-game average than Staenz (1.35) right now. The last Yale player to finish a season with at least 20 points and have a higher point-per-game average than Staenz' 1.35 was Crysti Howser '09, who scored 37 points in 27 games (1.37 points per game) in 2006-07.

Another freshman, forward Krista Yip-Chuck (Whitby, Ont.), leads Yale in goals with 10 and is fourth on the team in points with 17. Yip-Chuck has come on strong at the end of the season, with seven points (3-4-7) in the last five games. She and Staenz lead a Bulldog freshman class that has scored 26 goals this season, more than any other ECAC Hockey freshman class (St. Lawrence's freshman class is second with 19).

Sophomore forward Janelle Ferrara (Winthrop, Mass.) leads Yale in assists and is second on the team in points (5-16-21). Combined with Staenz, she gives the Bulldogs a pair of 20-point scorers for the first time since the 2008-09 season (when the Bulldogs had three 20-point scorers: Howser (13-11-24), Bray Ketchum '11 (13-10-23) and U.S. Olympian Helen Resor '09 (7-14-21)).

Raines has 13 points (9-4-13) in just 12 games this season after missing all of last season due to an injury. She and Staenz are both scoring at a pace that would give them 30+ points for a full season, and Yale has not had any players crack the 30-point mark since 2006-07 (Howser (22-15-37) and Sheila Zingler '07 (17-18-35)). Like Yip-Chuck, Raines has seven points in the last five games. Those two were playing on a line with Ferrara as the regular season ended.

Sophomore forward Jamie Haddad (Wilbraham, Mass.) is tied for second on the team in goals and is third on the team in points (9-9-18). Another sophomore forward, Hanna Åström (Örnsköldsvik, Sweden), is fifth on the team in points (6-9-15). Yale's three sophomore forwards -- Åström, Ferrara and Haddad -- have combined for 55 points this season (21-34-55), a dramatic increase compared to last season (15-16-31).

Åström, Yip-Chuck and senior forward Patricia McGauley (Wilcox, Sask.) are the least-penalized Bulldogs, having all appeared in at least 25 games and incurred four or fewer penalties. The Yale penalty killing unit has been successful on 17 of 18 kills in the last five games. The Bulldogs' power play has also come alive lately, contributing seven goals in the last eight games.

Yale's top scorer among defensemen is senior Tara Tomimoto (Calgary, Alta.), the team's captain. She has 14 points (3-11-14), matching her total from a year ago (2-12-14). Tomimoto has 35 assists for her career, placing her 19th on Yale's all-time list. Three other blueliners -- Martini (6-6-12), freshman Taylor Marchin (Algonac, Mich.) (5-6-11) and junior Aurora Kennedy (Mississauga, Ont.) (0-11-11) -- have also cracked the 10-point mark. Kennedy's sister, Whitney, lettered for Harvard in 2008-09 and 2010-11.

Leonoff made 73 saves last weekend, including 40 in the regular season finale. That was the sixth time this season she has made 40 or more saves in a game, and the second time in the final three games of the season. By stopping 120 of the 128 shots she faced in the last three games (.938), Leonoff has raised her season save percentage to .922 -- the ninth-best single season save percentage in Yale history. Her .914 career save percentage has her ranked third all-time at Yale right now, trailing only Jackee Snikeris '11 (.931) and Sarah Love '06 (.915). She has a 2.80 goals-against average this year, the best GAA of her career.

Harvard has played the entire season with head coach Katey Stone away coaching the United States Olympic Team. The U.S., which won silver, also had one Harvard alum (forward Julie Chu) and three current Harvard skaters who spent this past season away from school (forward Lyndsey Fry, defenseman Michelle Picard and defenseman Josephine Pucci). Maura Crowell has filled in as Harvard's interim head coach and has kept the Crimson winning. Harvard (21-4-4, 16-3-3 ECAC Hockey) has the fifth-best winning percentage in the country, and missed out on a share of the ECAC Hockey regular season championship by just one point (Clarkson beat Union in overtime in the regular season finale to claim sole possession of the title, with Harvard in second).

The Crimson leads the nation in penalty killing (94.3 percent) and is fifth in scoring defense (1.41 goals per game). Goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer is fourth in the nation in save percentage (.948) and ninth in goals-against average (1.60). She is also seventh in winning percentage (.783, 16-3-4). An ECAC Hockey All-Rookie selection last year, she has stopped 52 of 57 shots (.912) in the two games against Yale this season.

Harvard's top five scorers are all juniors or sophomores, led by sophomore forwards Miye D'Oench (17-14-31) and Mary Parker (13-12-25). The team's top scoring defenseman is junior Sarah Edney (6-16-22), a third team All-ECAC Hockey selection last year.

Harvard went 11-2-2 at home this season, and Yale's 2-0 win at Bright-Landry Hockey Center Jan. 11 snapped an unbeaten streak that dated back to Feb. 23, 2013 (3-1 to Clarkson).

The winner of this best-of-three series advances to the ECAC Hockey Championship semifinals, hosted by the highest remaining seed. The winner of the ECAC Hockey Championship tournament receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, which starts with a quarterfinal round on Mar. 14.

The full slate of ECAC Hockey Championship quarterfinal matchups this weekend, with seedings, is:

No. 8 DARTMOUTH at No. 1 CLARKSON
Friday: 3:30 p.m.
Saturday: 3:30 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m. (if necessary)

No. 7 YALE at No. 2 HARVARD
Friday: 7 p.m.
Saturday: 4 p.m.
Sunday: 4 p.m.

No. 6 PRINCETON at No. 3 CORNELL
Friday: 3:30 p.m.
Saturday: 2 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m. (if necessary)

No. 5 ST. LAWRENCE at No. 4 QUINNIPIAC
Friday: 7 p.m.
Saturday: 4 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m. (if necessary)

 

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

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