PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The 50th season of Brown women's hockey at Meehan Auditorium officially gets underway when the Bears take the ice for their home opener against No. 7 Quinnipiac on Friday at 7 p.m. Following the ECAC matchup, Brown opens its Ivy League slate on Saturday when the Tigers of Princeton come to town for a 4 p.m. contest.
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LAST TIME OUT
The Bears dove into ECAC play with a North Country weekend series at No. 6 Clarkson and St. Lawrence. On Friday, Brown earned its first tie against a nationally-ranked opponent since 2010 when senior goalie Aubree Moore (Bowie, Md.) made 53 saves to force the then-No. 5 Golden Knights to a 1-1 draw. Brown could not carry the momentum into the following day, however, and dropped a 5-1 decision against the Saints despites sophomore Ariana Rucker (Oakton, Va.) scoring her second goal of the weekend. Freshman Erin Conway (Jackson, Mich.) picked up team-best second assist of the season on Rucker's equalizer in the second period of Friday's stalemate.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS
Quinnipiac received its best-ever ranking after extending its program-record start to 7-1-2 with a 6-0 win over Colgate and 1-1 tie with No. 3 Cornell. The surging Bobcat offense had scored at least four goals in six of their last seven games prior to the draw against the Big Red and currently ranks seventh in the country with 3.4 goals per game.
Leading the attack is senior forward Kelly Babstock, whose seven goals and 10 assists vault her to third in the nation in scoring. Seven players on Quinnipiac have tallied multiple goals, giving the Bobcats plenty of scoring options to compliment a defense that lets up just 1.1 goals per game – the second best mark in the NCAA. Much of the team's stingy defense can be attributed to junior goalie Chelsea Laden, who has earned all 10 starts en route to the nation's second-best 1.02 goals against average and a .950 save percentage.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
The Tigers are playing .500 hockey after a small sample size, posting a 2-2-0 record in four ECAC contests. Following a tough 4-0 loss at Harvard, Princeton bounced back by skating with No. 3 Cornell to a tight 5-4 setback before unleashing a 6-2 offensive onslaught on Colgate. The Tigers head to Ivy League rival Yale on Friday prior to the trek to College Hill on Saturday.
Jaimie McDonnell holds a slim lead on the top scorer title for Princeton with five points on two goals and three helpers. Rose Alleva, the defending ECAC Player of the Week, paces the Tigers with three goals, while three players have two markers apiece. Both of freshman Cassidy Tucker's goals were shorthanded, one of which was the game-winner in Saturday's six-goal third period outburst that lifted Princeton to a come-from-behind victory over Colgate.
The Tiger starting goalie duties still appear to be up for grabs, as sophomore Kimberly Newell has made three appearances to junior Ashley Holt's two. Newell owns a 1-2-0 record in a small majority of the minutes, but Holt shows promise with a 1.21 goals against average and .952 save percentage in 99 minutes of action.
The storied rivalry between Brown and Princeton continues with the 74th meeting between the two teams dating back to 1975, but not before the Bears battle the Bobcats for the 19th time on Friday. Brown aims to inch closer to the win column against both squads, as Quinnipiac holds a 9-6-3 advantage while the Tigers have a 41-31-2 record versus the Bears.
A win over the Tigers would break a seven-game losing streak and give Brown its first win against the Ancient Eight foe since a 4-3 overtime thriller on Feb. 19, 2010. Last season, Princeton handed the Bears a pair of losses, most recently in the form of a 2-1 defeat on Feb. 22, 2013. Current Brown players combine for just four career points against the Tigers, led by senior Vanessa Welten's (Crysler, Ontario) one goal.
Quinnipiac prevailed in both meetings last season after the Bears dueled the Bobcats to a 1-1 tie on Nov. 5, 2011. Brown has not defeated the Connecticut squad since 2009.
The Bears hit the road for another ECAC weekend series, taking on Union on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Rensselaer on Saturday at 3 p.m.