For 20 years, the women’s hockey version of The Game wasn’t much of one. However, a hockey renaissance in New Haven combined with a netminder from Bayfield, Ontario seemingly armed with a Crimson antidote, and the battle has suddenly been joined in the last two seasons. Harvard remains in contention for top billing in the ECACHL. Yale currently holds the league’s final playoff position. The last month of the regular season has arrived and both teams are hoping a win in a rivalry matchup will set up a surge to the finish line.
Game Time: Sat. 4 p.m. ET (Broadcast Links)
Yale (6-10-4 overall, 3-5-3 ECACHL)
Top Scorers: Deena Caplette, Sr., F (10-7-17), Crysti Howser, Fr., F (6-7-13), Kristin Savard, Jr., F (6-7-13)
Top Goaltender: Sarah Love, Sr. (5-9-3, 2.63, .914)
Scoring Offense: 2.55 (18th)
Scoring Defense: 2.75 (21st)
Penalty Minutes: 10.7 (27th)
Power Play: 19 of 105, 18.1% (10th)
Penalty Kill: 84 of 108, 80.8% (28th)
During Yale’s breakout 2004-05 campaign, the Bulldogs put together winning streaks of six and four games over the course of the season. Coach Hilary Witt would probably take two in a row right now as Yale has yet to log back-to-back victories in 2005-06. A resurgence by the power play this past weekend could help the cause. Yale went 5-for-16 with the extra skater after entering the weekend with just 14 power-play goals for the season — simply the product of better puck movement according to Witt.
No Erin Duggan (lost to graduation) and no Helen Resor (lost to the Olympics) on the blueline hasn’t helped the offense, but Yale has cultivated the depth up front to expect more than two goals per game in just eight of 20 outings. Witt feels the key to her entire offense is production from her top line of senior Deena Caplette (on pace for her customary 10-plus goal and 20-plus point campaign), junior Jenna Spring (last year’s leading scorer), and freshman Crysti Howser, and the key to that line is actually Howser. The Yale coach feels her prized freshman recruit has been pressing a bit of late, and that once the goals start coming, they will come in rapid succession.
No. 7 Harvard (10-7-2 overall, 7-3-2 ECACHL)
Top Scorers: Jennifer Raimondi, Sr., F (7-17-24), Jenny Brine, Fr., F (12-9-21), Katie Johnston, Jr., F (5-12-16)
Top Goaltender: Ali Boe, Sr. (7-7-2, 2.67, .905)
Scoring Offense: 3.32 (9th)
Scoring Defense: 2.47 (17th)
Penalty Minutes: 13.9 (10th)
Power Play: 24 of 99, 24.2% (2nd)
Penalty Kill: 97 of 111, 87.4% (9th)
Whether it was the exam break, a team-wide flu bug, or just a poor showing all around, Harvard started off a critical segment of its schedule with a dud at Dartmouth. Starting this Friday, the Crimson will play six games in 11 days with No. 8 Princeton the only opponent currently above Harvard in the RPI or Pairwise rankings. Translation — the Crimson needs a string of victories to harbor legitimate hopes of an at-large NCAA tournament berth. Katey Stone’s teams have traditionally finished strong, 27-1-2 in February over the past three seasons and even the 2002 team turned an 8-7-1 start into a 10-4-1 close.
Jenny Brine has been held to a single assist in the last two games, but where would the Crimson offense be without unheralded rookie? The Nova Scotia native inherited the No. 9 jersey from 150-goal scorer Nicole Corriero and after taking five games to notch her first goal, Brine has a team-high 12 in the last 14 contests. Her coach attributes a lot of that success to Brine’s hockey smarts and ability to read plays, comparing the freshman to former Crimson captain Angie Francisco ’01, who combined similar instincts and a good set of hands to produce 190 points during her four seasons.