STORRS, Conn. – The defending national champions and a pair of top-five opponents headline the field for the 2014 Nutmeg Classic this weekend at Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs. The UConn women’s hockey team will welcome No. 5 Clarkson, No. 4 Quinnipiac and Yale to Freitas this weekend for the annual holiday tournament.
The semifinals, pitting Quinnipiac vs. Yale and UConn vs. Clarkson, are set for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 28. The third-place game and championship will be played on Saturday, Nov. 29, also at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Admission to the tournament is free of charge.
UConn (3-9-5, 0-5-2 WHEA) hosts the Nutmeg Classic for the first time since 2011, when it defeated Yale in the third-place game, marking UConn’s last victory in the tournament. UConn last won the annual gathering in the 2009-10 season, taking down Quinnipiac in the semifinals before a 6-1 championship victory over Yale in New Haven. That tournament victory marked the third-consecutive Nutmeg Classic title for the Huskies at the time.
The Huskies are led this season by senior captain Sarah MacDonnell (Quispamsis, New Brunswick), who is first on the squad in points (11) and assists (7). Classmate Emily Snodgrass (Eagan, Minn.) is UConn’s top goal-scorer with seven tallies this season and is second on the team with nine points.
Freshman Theresa Knutson (Onalaska, Wis.) is second on the team with five goals, and along with classmate Leah Lum (Richmond, British Columbia) has scored seven points on the year. Behind MacDonnell, Rebecca Fleming (Newton, Mass.) is the second-leading distributor with five assists, and Lum, Rachel Farrel (Cheshire, Conn.) and Caitlin Hewes (Stillwater, Minn.) each have four helpers.
The Golden Knights (10-4-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) visit Storrs after winning the 2014 National Championship last year, taking down perpetual power Minnesota in the title game to become the first team from outside the WCHA to win a women’s hockey championship. No. 5 Clarkson is off to another strong start in its title defense, holding a 10-4-1 record on the year. Shannon MacAulay is Clarkson’s top scorer with a 12-11-23 line, and also leads the club with three game-winning goals. Genevieve Bannon and Cayley Mercer sport identical 8-10-18 lines in support of MacAulay, with Mercer the owner of a team-best +24 rating. In goal for Clarkson, Shea Tiley has started all but one contest and holds a sterling 1.23 GAA and a .943 save percentage with four shutouts.
UConn and Clarkson have met three times in the past, with an even 1-1-1 split in the all-time series. The last meeting came on Oct. 9, 2011, a 3-3 draw. Snodgrass had a goal and an assist for the Huskies in that contest. The Huskies have met the defending national champion five times before, going 0-2 against Minnesota Duluth in 2003-04, falling at Minnesota in 2005-06 and dropping two at Duluth in 2010-11.
Off to its best start in program history, No. 4 Quinnipiac (11-0-2, 6-0-1 ECAC) is unbeaten through 13 contests thanks to the nation’s stingiest defense which has allowed a mere six goals all season. Netminder Chelsea Laden is first in the country in GAA (0.41), save percentage (.968) and shutouts (eight) on the year. Offensively, Taylar Cianfarano is QU’s top scorer with a 7-7-14 scoring line, placing first on the squad in goals and first nationally with four game-winners. Nicole Connery has also potted seven goals for the Bobcats and has totaled 11 and, while Erica Uden Johansson sports a 4-7-11 scoring line.
Quinnipiac defeated UConn earlier this season, a 3-0 victory in Hamden on Oct. 3. That game pushed the all-time series to 9-5-0 in favor of the Huskies, dating back to UConn’s second season in 2001-02.
The Bulldogs (4-4-1, 1-3-0 ECAC) visit Storrs after a 4-0 setback to No. 1 Boston College in their last contest, a squad the Huskies faced twice last weekend. Jamie Haddad is Yale’s top scorer with a 5-5-10 line, and Stephanie Mock, Courtney Pensavalle and Krista Yip-Chuck have all also scored five goals on the year. Taylor Marchin is the top distributer on the squad with eight helpers, and Janelle Ferrara and Phoebe Stanz have seven assists apiece. In goal, Jaimie Leonoff has seen the bulk of action and holds a 2.68 GAA with a .918 save percentage.
UConn is 8-4-0 all-time against Yale, with the last meeting a 5-4 thriller that went to the Bulldogs in the Nutmeg Classic semifinals last season. The Huskies’ last victory over Yale came in the aforementioned 2011 Nutmeg third-place game, a 3-1 victory on Nov. 26, 2011. Current Huskies Hewes and Snodgrass scored in the win and Kayla Campero (Wallingford, Conn.) dished out two assists.
Following the Nutmeg Classic, the Huskies have the month of December off for finals and return to the ice on Jan. 3, 2015 at Northeastern.