Sports

Women’s ice hockey pushes for eighth and final playoff spot

Squad celebrates Valentine’s Day with date at Princeton before facing Quinnipiac

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, February 14, 2014

Junior forward Janice Yang '15 has amassed 12 points this season and leads the women's ice hockey team with seven goals. If the Bears have any hopes of staying in the playoff hunt, they will need a solid performance from Yang this weekend.

The women’s ice hockey team will take on Princeton and Quinnipiac this weekend in its last two road matchups of the regular season. Riding a two-game winning streak, Bruno will face tough opponents — the Tigers rank sixth and the Bobcats rank fourth in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. Brown, by comparison, holds the tenth spot.

The top eight teams compete in championship quarterfinals, so the Bears can’t afford to let these four points escape their grasp.

Bruno has faced stiff competition throughout the season and has often lost games by small margins.

“They have been close in every game, and we are finally starting to get some more bounces our way,” wrote Assistant Coach Jillian Kirchner in an email to The Herald. “The girls realize that we still have a chance at playoffs, so I think they will come into these games with a lot of energy.”

As the hockey season draws toward a close, the team has increasingly capitalized on its hard work and finally secured some crucial wins. The seniors, as they don their jerseys for the last few times, are looking to cash in on their momentum and hard work for end of season victories.

“The team is really building energy around (the seniors) as their playing careers at Brown start winding down,” Kirchner wrote.

With increased offensive production and a stingy defense anchored by co-captain Aubree Moore ’14, who leads the ECAC in saves and holds an impressive .929 save percentage, the Bears head into the weekend with a winning mentality.

 

Friday: Princeton (12-9-4, ECAC 8-7-3)

On Valentine’s Day, the squad will skate against a competitive Tigers team that has proven its ability to break down defenses and put the puck in the net. When the two teams faced off in November, the Tigers triumphed 5-2. Brown has not beaten Princeton since February of 2010, when they captured a 4-3 overtime victory.

The Tigers will enter the game having won nine of their last 12, most recently tying No. 5 Clarkson. But Brown’s two most recent victories over RPI and Union are both teams that have stumped the Tigers this season, handing Princeton a tie and a loss, respectively.

Princeton is fifth in the league in total goals and goals-per-game. Brown, on the other hand, ranks last in both categories. Bruno’s defense — led by Moore — has remained a force to be reckoned with. If the Bears continue to be outshot in the vast majority of games and struggle to put points on the board, their defensive strength may prove moot. On the season, Bruno has taken 511 shots to its opponents’ 893.

“They have a well-coached team who is relentless all over the ice,” Kirchner wrote. “They have had some big wins, and they have some players that can put the puck in the net, so we have to capitalize on the opportunities we get.”

 

Saturday: Quinnipiac (17-5-8, 8-4-6)

Bruno will head to Hamden, CT to face an offensively threatening Bobcat squad Saturday. Quinnipiac’s starting forwards Kelly Babstock and Shiann Darkangelo are second and third in the conference in shots taken, with a total of 275 shots between the two. The Quinnipiac athletics website bio of Babstock calls her “the greatest women’s hockey player in Quinnipiac history.”

“They have some dangerous forwards … and they have a very fast team,” Kirchner said. “Quinnipiac is a team that can score on the power play and five-on-five.”

When the two teams battled earlier this season, Quinnipiac emerged victorious 3-1 and outshot the Bears by the staggering margin of 36. But the Bobcats recently dropped both a 3-0 decision against St. Lawrence, a team that the Bears defeated 4-2 over winter break, and a 3-2 decision against RPI, a team that Bruno shut out 3-0 last weekend. The Brown offense has stepped up, improving on its ability to connect passes and match opponents’ offensive efforts. The Bears will need to be strong defensively and capitalize on scoring opportunities in order to be successful on Saturday, Kirchner wrote.