February 8, 2011

Women's Journal: Yale outburst spurs playoff push

Yale's Jenna Ciotti had a hat trick at Union and scored the game-tying goal against RPI. (photo: Sam Rubin)

After a month-long drought, the goals came in bunches for Yale last week.

Now, the playoff hopes are getting watered, too.

Yale scored 12 goals in three games last week, the most in any three-game stretch in more than a year. The wins at ECAC Hockey weak sisters Brown (4-0) and Union (5-0) might have been predicted, but battling back from a two-goal, third-period deficit to salvage a 2-2 tie at Rensselaer was a nice way to cap things.

“Winning would have been great,” first-year Yale coach Joakim Flygh said. “Four points is a huge swing in the standings. But to be able to battle back to tie showed a lot of character. This should be a really interesting last two weeks. I’m encouraged by the way we’re playing.”

With two weekends left in the regular season, Yale (7-14-3, 6-9-2 ECAC Hockey) sits two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently occupied by St. Lawrence. Of its five remaining games, two are against teams below it in the standings (Colgate and Brown) and three are against teams above it (Cornell, Quinnipiac and Princeton).

It hasn’t been an easy year for the Bulldogs, as they’ve gotten adjusted to Flygh, a former Harvard assistant who replaced Hilary Witt before the season, and the emotional ups and recent downs as teammate Mandi Schwartz continues her brave and public battle against cancer.

After going nearly a full month without a win, thanks in part to a weather postponement, the Bulldogs feasted last week. Jackie Raines scored twice against Brown and set up three goals against Union. Jenna Ciotti followed up her hat trick at Union by scoring the game-tying goal in the third period against RPI.

Goalie Jackee Snikeris stopped 76 of 78 shots on the week.

NEHJ Player of the Week

Danielle Welch, jr., Boston College

How could Welch top Friday’s performance, when she deflected in the game-winning goal to beat UConn in overtime, 3-2? By scoring a hat trick in Sunday’s 4-2 win over No. 9 Providence.

Welch, a center, finished the weekend with four goals and an assist, and is tied for third on the seventh-ranked Eagles with 9-11-20 totals.

Looking Ahead

Boston University vs. Northeastern, Friday and Saturday

The two city rivals missed each other in the opening round of Tuesday’s Beanpot, but play a home-and-home this weekend with plenty at stake, beginning at Walter Brown Arena on Friday night.

Third-ranked BU (22-3-3, 12-2-3 HE) has all but cemented an NCAA playoff berth — its second straight — while the Huskies (14-9-5, 6-7-4 HE) are just two points behind third-place UConn.

Around Hockey East

After coming up empty in overtime against BC, UConn got a goal from Taylor Gross in the third period against Northeastern and took a point away from a 2-2 tie. Alexandra Garcia made 33 saves for UConn. The Huskies host Providence on Sunday outdoors at Rentschler Field as part of Whalers Hockey Fest. …

Vermont goalie Roxanne Douville recorded her second straight shutout — both by scores of 1-0 — as the Catamounts won at Maine. Chelsea Rapin’s power-play strike six minutes into the third period was the game-winner. …

New Hampshire notched its most impressive win of the season, going to Walter Brown and beating BU, 4-2. Linemates Kristine Horn (goal, assist) and Kristina Lavoie (two assists) helped the Wildcats open up a 3-0 lead through two periods. The Terriers got a measure of revenge with Saturday’s 3-1 win at the Whittemore Center, but UNH is still riding a 4-2-0 stretch as it looks to secure a spot in the league playoffs.

Around ECAC Hockey

No. 10 Harvard saw its six-game win streak snapped with a 3-2 loss to Princeton but bounced back with a 3-2 win against Quinnipiac a night later to improve its grasp on second place with two weekends to go. Down 2-0 entering the third period, the Crimson got two goals from Kalley Armstrong sandwiched around a rebound strike from defenseman Josephine Pucci to grab the win. …

Freshman Kelly Babstock had three goals on the weekend for Quinnipiac, which blanked Dartmouth, 4-0, on Friday. Her 25 goals are the fourth-most in Division 1. …

Dartmouth bounced back in strong fashion by routing Princeton, 7-0, Saturday. Jenna Hobeika had two goals and two assists to lead the charge, while Kelly Foley (Boston, Mass.) added a goal and an assist. …

No. 2 Cornell clinched first place and the top seed for the ECAC Hockey tournament by beating St. Lawrence Saturday, 2-1. That capped the toughest league weekend the Big Red have had all season, after they tied Clarkson, 3-3, on Friday. They haven’t lost since Nov. 2, a stretch of 20 games.

Mike Zhe can be reached at mzhe@hockeyjournal.com