USCHO Women’s Game of the Week: Yale at Princeton

The opening act of USCHO’s Thanksgiving Marathon may represent both a feature presentation and a coming attraction. The feature presentation matches up Yale and Princeton teams that have each had their share of top 10 wins in recent years. Yale, who has upset Princeton in each of the last two seasons, ended a two-decade losing streak against No. 4 Harvard on November 12, and Princeton has wins against Brown and No. 10 Providence to its credit. Yet the game still represents a coming attraction because the Bulldogs and the Tigers have been on the rise for several years despite having only a total of five seniors on their rosters.

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No. 8 Princeton (4-3-1 overall, 2-2-0 ECAC)

Top Scorers: Liz Keady, So., F (2-4-6), Heather Jackson, Jr., F (2-4-6), Laura Watt, So., F (1-5-6)
Top Goaltender: Roxanne Gaudiel, Jr. (4-3-1, 2.11, .917)
Scoring Offense: 2.00 (T-22nd)
Scoring Defense: 2.12 (11th)
Penalty Minutes: 15.8 (18th)
Power Play: 6 of 58, 10.3% (27th)
Penalty Kill: 45 of 55, 81.8% (20th)

Princeton enters the Thanksgiving holiday thankful for the emergence of Roxanne Gaudiel as a reliable No. 1 goaltender. Gaudiel fashioned her statement game of the young season this past weekend, stopping 34 shots in blanking No. 9 Mercyhurst 1-0. The junior from Venice, Florida currently sports a goal against average and save percentage just slightly off the career marks of graduated workhorse Megan Van Beusekom.

However, the Tigers hope the break of the Thanksgiving wishbone restores some punch to their attack. The graduation of Gretchen Anderson, Lisa Rasmussen, and Angela Gooldy was bound to affect the offense, especially early in the season. The potential is there in the form of junior Heather Jackson, and sophomores Liz Keady, Kim Pearce and Laura Watt. But after netting four goals in three of its first four outings, Princeton has potted four goals in its next four games combined, and all of the team’s defeats thus far have been of the shutout variety.

Yale (5-3-0 overall, 4-2-0 ECAC)

Top Scorers: Erin Duggan, Sr., D (6-4-10); Kristin Savard, So., F (2-6-8), Jenna Spring, So., F (5-2-7)
Top Goaltenders: Sarah Love, Jr. (4-3-0, 2.69, .909)
Scoring Offense: 3.00 (11th)
Scoring Defense: 2.50 (15th)
Penalty Minutes: 15.0 (21st)
Power Play: 6 of 48, 12.5% (21st)
Penalty Kill: 50 of 57, 87.7% (T-11th)

A win over Princeton would put Yale at 5-2 in the conference as of Nov. 24. To put that progress in perspective, consider that Yale notched its fifth league win last season on Feb. 13, won five ECAC games in all of 2002-03 and managed just 10 total conference wins over the four campaigns prior to that.

The backbone of Yale’s push up the standings remains goaltender Sarah Love. Last season, the junior from Bayfield, Ontario set Bulldog single-season records for goals against average (2.25) and save percentage (.931) en route to Second Team All-ECAC honors. Her numbers this year are slightly down, mainly the result of one poor outing against No. 2 Dartmouth, and all Love did in her next game was stop 48 of 50 shots in ending the program’s 20-year drought against Harvard.

But while Love admits that she finds it easier to focus when the opposition is peppering her net with shots, the cast in front of her is now better equipped to ease her workload. Senior captain Erin Duggan paces the offense and the defense as one of six upperclass players who have seen Yale through its evolution. Meanwhile, a talented sextet of sophomores headed by forwards Kristin Savard and Jenna Spring may constitute the nucleus class for a program on the rise.