PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Brown women's hockey team will travel to capital of the Empire State this weekend as they take on ECAC Hockey foes RPI and Union. The Bears take on the Engineers Friday night, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. before facing the Dutchwomen on Saturday, Feb. 5, at 4 p.m.
The two games this weekend start a five-game road trip for Brown as the team wraps up its road portion of the 2010-11 schedule. The Bears only have seven games left this year, all of which come against ECAC Hockey opponents. Brown will also face No. 2 Cornell, Colgate and Yale on the road this month before wrapping up the season at home against Quinnipiac and Princeton on Feb. 18 and 19.
Strength of Schedule
Brown has faced a grueling schedule, not only in the first half of the season in which with nine of its 12 opponents have received votes in the national poll and six cracking the top 10, but since a return from winter break, the Bears have faced No. 2 Cornell, No. 3 Boston University and No. 4 Mercyhurst (twice) this month.
The games have been just as tough in conference play as three of the Bears last six games have come against the top three teams in the ECAC, and four of six against top-five teams.
Despite a tough stretch for the Bears, the team is still mathematically alive for the eighth and final playoff spot for the ECAC Championship.
The Captain Returns
Senior captain Samantha Stortini (Sudbury, Ontario) missed seven games with a hip injury at the beginning of the season and has since returned after the winter break. Stortini's experience and leadership on the backline is needed with a plethora of young players seeing valuable minutes for the Bears this season. "Storts" looks to join fellow senior captains Erica Kromm (Naramata, British Columbia) and Jenna Dancewicz (Lake Forest, Ill.) at the 100 games played milestone. Both Kromm and Dancewicz hit the mark earlier this season. Stortini is currently at 95 career games with eight games left on the regular-season slate.
Sophomore Laurie Jolin (Lachine, Quebec) continues to be the Bears main offensive threat, leading the team with eight goals, 11 points and 47 shots. Jolin has been one of the most effective scorers in the ECAC this year. Her .148 goal percentage is 11th in the league among players with at least 50 shots.
Classmate Alena Polenska (Kutna Hora, Czech Republic) has really turned it on as of late, raking up four points in the past two games. Polenska had an assist on the first goal against St. Lawrence and had three points (a goal and two assists) versus Clarkson. "Czechy" is now second on the team in goals (four), assists (five) and points (nine).
Rookie defender Jennifer Nedow (Brockville, Ontario) has proven she can do it all, playing staunch defense while leading the team with six assists this season. Nedow even shifted up to center after injuries at Mercyhurst left the Bears shorthanded.
Classmate Jessica Hoyle (Toronto, Ontario) has played on the top line for the Bears all season and continues to be one of the hardest skaters on the team. Hoyle is tied for second on the team with four assists and fourth with 31 shots.
Freshman Vanessa Welten (Crysler, Ontario) scored her second goal of the season at St. Lawrence, unassisted, going coast-to-coast for the score. It was her first game back from a head injury.
Goalie Aubree Moore (Bowie, Md.) kept the Bears in both games last weekend. Entering the game against SLU in the first period, she allowed just one goal while making 26 saves. She drew the start at Clarkson the next day and added 30 moves stops to her weekend total.
RPI enters the home stretch of its season this weekend, hosting Brown and Yale. The Engineers have six games remaining in their regular season schedule, four of which will be played at the Houston Field House.
The Engineers shouldered a pair of losses on the road last weekend, falling to Colgate, 2-0, and No. 2 Cornell, 6-0. Senior netminder Sonja van der Bliek played both games in goal for Rensselaer, stopping a combined 51 shots, including 30 against the nationally-ranked Big Red.
Since the first meeting between Brown and RPI on Jan. 6, 2007 - a 2-2 tie in Troy - the Engineers have gone 4-3-2 versus the Bears. RPI has held the advantage over the last five meetings, posting a 3-1-1 record, including a 1-0-1 mark in Troy. Brown skated to a 1-0 victory on Nov. 13, 2010, while the Engineers posted a 1-0-1 mark against the Bears during the 2009-10 season.
Under the direction of eighth-year head coach John Burke, the Engineers (9-12-6; 7-8-1 ECAC Hockey) are led in scoring by sophomore winger Taylor Horton, who has nine goals and eight assists for 17 points. Rookie winger Jordan Smelker (8 goals, 6 assists) and junior center Alisa Harrison (5 goals, 9 assists) each have 14 points, while sophomore defenseman Andie Le Donne (2g, 10a) rounds out the top four with 12 points. In goal, senior Sonja van der Bliek (9-12-3) has a 2.70 goals against average with an .897 save percentage.
The women's ice hockey team will host the fourth annual 'Pink at the Rink' this Saturday when the Dutchwomen face Brown at Messa Rink at 4 p.m. Pink at the Rink is a variation of the traditional Coaches vs. Cancer program that provides critical outreach, while raising funds in support of the American Cancer Society's lifesaving cancer research, education, advocacy and community service. All donations made to this year's Pink at the Rink event will benefit the "Score for Kristen & The Kids" fund, helping 8 year old Kristen Shinebarger in her fight against Ewing's Sarcoma.
On the ice, the Dutchwomen are on an 11-game loss streak and have not won a game since Oct. 15 against Sacred Heart, their only win of the season. Union has had trouble scoring, putting in only six goals in 10 games since the start of the New Year.
Junior forwards Lauren Hoffman and Lauren Cromartie are tied for the team lead with nine points. Hoffman has three goals and six assists, while Cromartie has one less goal and one more assist. Junior goaltender Kate Gallagher has seen the majority of minutes in net for Union, compiling marks of .921 (save percentage) and 2.72 (goals against average).
Pictured Above: junior forward Katelyn Landry