Clarke, Johnson and Murphy Honored; Snikeris Makes 46 Saves
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - On an emotional Senior Day at Ingalls Rink, Yale took a Cornell team that was battling for first place in ECAC Hockey down to the wire. But ultimately a power-play goal by Big Red defenseman Lauriane Rougeau late in the second period proved to be the only goal, and Cornell came away with a 1-0 win despite 46 saves from junior goaltender Jackee Snikeris. With the loss, Yale remains tied with Dartmouth for the eighth and final ECAC Hockey playoff spot with two games remaining.
With each game taking on added importance as the Bulldogs look to claim a spot in the postseason, Saturday's game included a host of other emotions as Yale's seniors played their final game at Ingalls Rink. Defenseman Alyssa Clarke, forward Berit Johnson and forward Caroline Murphy were recognized with signs behind the bench and on the press box, and were honored on the ice with their families after the game. Murphy's father, David, a Colonel in the Army, had just returned from Afghanistan and had not seen her since last spring. He was welcomed prior to the National Anthem.
Cornell (13-8-6, 12-2-6 ECAC Hockey) entered the day just one point behind Clarkson for first place in ECAC Hockey, giving the Big Red plenty of incentive of its own. Cornell wound up outshooting Yale 47-19, including nine shots from Canadian Under-22 Team forward Catherine White. Snikeris had a string of eight straight games with 30 or more saves heading into Saturday, and it was clear early on she was going to extend that streak. A Yale turnover at the blue line gave Cornell forward Chelsea Karpenko the chance to skate in for a wide-open shot, but Snikeris got enough of the shot with her glove to keep it from going in. She later was able to cover up the loose puck in the crease.
With so much on the line for both teams, every missed opportunity wound up getting magnified. With less than five minutes to play in the first, freshman forward Danielle Moncion made a terrific poke check to steal the puck from a Cornell player, then skated in on the net and tried a backhand shot. But for the second time in as many nights, Moncion's shot hit the post. On Friday vs. Colgate the puck bounced out to Murphy and she was able to turn it into a goal en route to a 3-1 win for Yale, but nothing of the sort happened on Saturday. The teams went into the first intermission scoreless after Cornell goalie Amanda Mazzotta made a pair of late saves on junior forward Bray Ketchum and freshman defenseman Jamie Gray.
A minute into the second period Snikeris came up with another brilliant sequence, denying both forward Melanie Jue and forward Karlee Overguard after a Yale turnover. Three minutes in Ketchum nearly caught the Big Red in the midst of a line change, but her wrister sailed high. Sophomore forward Aleca Hughes then drew the first penalty of the game, a holding call on the Big Red, but the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of the power play.
Yale (10-14-3, 8-11-1 ECAC Hockey) then had a 5-on-3 later in the period, with Gray and Moncion getting Cornell into hooking and checking calls within a span of 62 seconds. But Mazzotta stopped a flurry of Yale shots, including Hughes' attempt to come out from behind the net and stuff the puck in.
Snikeris came up with a series of saves late in the period as Cornell continued to apply heavy offensive pressure, with junior defenseman Samantha MacLean finally getting the puck out of trouble. But a tripping call on Yale gave Cornell's top-ranked power play a chance to operate, and Rougeau banged home a feed from forward Catherine White with only 34 seconds left in the period for the 1-0 lead.
Having the lead enabled Cornell to play some stifling defense in the final period, and it wasn't until 2:45 remained in the game that the Bulldogs were able to get their first shot through to Mazzotta -- a tricky wrister from Johnson that the Cornell net minder was able to stick aside. Murphy also had a long-distance dump in that wound up on net, and other than that the Bulldogs had no other shots on goal for the period, even after pulling Snikeris with 28 seconds to play. After a Cornell penalty with eight seconds left, Clarke's attempt to get a slap shot off as time expired was blocked. The shutout was the fourth in a row for Mazzotta.
The Bulldogs had to continue scoreboard watching after the game, and Dartmouth's 5-2 loss at RPI left the Big Green still tied with Yale for eighth. Tenth-place Colgate edged Brown 4-3 to move within a point of eighth place as well.
Since Dartmouth has the edge on the Bulldogs in the first tiebreaker (head-to-head record), Yale must finish at least one point ahead of the Big Green in the standings to avoid elimination. Yale has the tiebreaker on Colgate but cannot afford to get passed by the Raiders.
The win by Cornell, combined with Clarkson's 1-1 tie at Quinnipiac, leaves Clarkson and Cornell tied for first.
Dartmouth plays at Clarkson and at St. Lawrence next weekend, while Colgate hosts Union and RPI. Yale visits Quinnipiac Friday and Princeton Saturday.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity