January 31, 2008

Challenging Trip Includes Dartmouth, No. 1 Harvard

Jan. 31, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - With a 5-2 record in the last seven games, the Yale women's hockey team appears to be heating up just in time for the stretch run. The Bulldogs will measure their progress this weekend with a visit to two of the top teams in ECAC Hockey, Dartmouth (Friday, 7:00 p.m.) and No. 1 Harvard (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.).

Yale (9-8-4, 6-6-2 ECAC Hockey, 7th) has been playing its best hockey of late, and the 5-0 win over Cornell last Saturday marked the third time in the last six games the Bulldogs scored five goals. Junior forward Maggie Westfal (New Canaan, Conn.) has a team-high four goals in that span, and she is one of five players (along with sophomore defenseman Alyssa Clarke (Donkin, N.S.), junior forward Crysti Howser (Wilmette, Ill.), junior forward Sarah Tittman (Chilton, Wisc.) and sophomore forward Mandi Schwartz (Wilcox, Sask.)) with six points in the last six games. Overall Howser and Tittman are tied for the team lead in points with 18.

Goaltending continues to be a Bulldog strength as well. Freshman Jackee Snikeris (Downingtown, Pa.) is eighth in the country in save percentage (.928) and senior Shivon Zilis (Markham, Ont.) is 12th (.925). Yale is the only team with two goalies in the top 12; Minnesota is the only other team with two in the top 22. Snikeris has a scoreless streak of 121:18 going and was just named ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week.

Dartmouth (11-7-3, 8-5-1 ECAC Hockey, 4th) is trying to fend off a number of challengers for home ice advantage in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals. The Big Green currently holds the fourth and final home ice spot but three teams, including the Bulldogs, are within three points. A 1-4-2 stretch, including losses to three nationally ranked teams, has dropped Dartmouth from the national polls and into the "others receiving votes" category. Sophomore forward Jenna Cunningham is the team's leading scorer and is fifth in the country (17-20-37).

Harvard (17-1-0, 14-0-0 ECAC Hockey, 1st) has lost just once this year, a 4-1 defeat at New Hampshire in December. Not only has Harvard won six straight since that defeat, the Crimson has not even trailed at any point during those six games. Harvard has outscored its opponents 24-2 in that stretch and 65-15 for the year. Junior forward Sarah Vaillancourt (11-26-37) generates much of the offense, while sophomore goaltender Christina Kessler leads the defense with a nation's-best 0.88 goals-against average.

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