February 20, 2010

Bulldogs Fall in Season Finale at Princeton, 4-0

Last Game for Clarke, Johnson and Murphy

PRINCETON, N.J. - After making a furious run at a playoff spot late in the season, the Yale women's hockey team wound up finishing three points away from the postseason. The Bulldogs dropped their season finale Saturday afternoon at Princeton, 4-0.

After losing their first five league games, and seven of their first eight, it would have seemed unlikely that Yale would enter the final weekend of the season within reach of the playoffs. But, thanks to a 6-1-1 run in ECAC Hockey games from Dec. 4 through Jan. 31, the Bulldogs entered Friday tied with Dartmouth for the eighth and final playoff spot. Ironically, neither of those teams wound up making the postseason, as a 1-0 loss at Quinnipiac eliminated Yale Friday and the Big Green's 4-3 loss at St. Lawrence Saturday enabled Colgate to claim eighth with a 3-2 win over RPI.

Princeton (13-12-4, 11-7-4 ECAC Hockey) was celebrating Senior Day at Baker Rink, and honored Yale's seniors -- defenseman Alyssa Clarke, forward Berit Johnson and forward Caroline Murphy -- too, as they played their final game for the Bulldogs Saturday. The trio played a key role in keeping together a young squad that relied heavily on contributions from its eight freshmen and five sophomores.

Junior goalie Jackee Snikeris made a great save on forward Heather Landry just 50 seconds in, stuffing her attempt to knock in a pass at the doorstep. Five minutes later, after some great forechecking kept Princeton from getting the puck any further than the neutral zone for a stretch of several minutes, junior forward Bray Ketchum just missed the chance to knock in the rebound of a shot by sophomore forward Aleca Hughes that Princeton goalie Rachel Weber made a kick save on.

The Tigers broke on top at 7:10, when forward Paula Romanchuk scored by making a nice move right in front of the net with Snikeris down and out of position looking for the puck.

Clarke broke up a Princeton 2-on-1 with seven minutes left in the period, and down at the other end of the ice right after that junior defenseman Samantha MacLean flipped a backhander on net in heavy traffic that Weber made a pad save on and was able to cover eventually.

Princeton extended its lead at 14:45 when forward Charissa Stadnyk knocked in a rebound. The Bulldogs almost crept closer in the final minute of the first, but the Tigers intercepted a nice crossing pass from the left wing by sophomore forward Becky Mantell. Right after that the puck almost got knocked into the Princeton goal unintentionally when it bounced off a Tiger player, but Princeton went into the first intermission with its 2-0 lead intact.

The Bulldogs had some of their best offensive chances of the past few games in the second period, but remained unable to find the back of the net. Murphy was able to cycle the puck effectively with freshman forward Alyssa Zupon low on the right side seven minutes in, but Weber denied Murphy when she walked in and took a shot. Weber also sticked aside a backhander by Murphy four minutes later after MacLean hit her with a long pass.

Weber denied successive shots from the slot by Hughes and Ketchum with eight minutes left in the period, and shortly after that the Bulldogs got the only power play of the game. Sophomore defenseman Heather Grant did a nice job of keeping the puck in the zone and putting it on net, but Weber was able to stop and cover the bouncing puck. Princeton's lead stayed 2-0 heading into the third period.

MacLean disrupted a potential breakaway for forward Kelly Cooke three minutes into the third, and two minutes later Snikeris made a tough save on a bouncing shot by defenseman Stephanie Denino. Right after that the Tiger defense tied up Zupon as she looked to knock in a pass from Murphy with Weber out of position. A pair of Tiger goals in a span of just over six minutes, one by Landry and one by forward Julie Johnson, then put the game out of reach.

The Bulldogs called timeout with 4:52 left in the game, and Yale's three seniors -- Clarke, Johnson and Murphy -- were out on the ice together for the end of the game. They kept battling to the end, but Weber made a pair of saves on chances from in close by Murphy with a minute to go, and Clarke had a slap shot blocked with 30 seconds left.

Snikeris finished with 21 saves. Her .927 save percentage for the season was third-best in the last 30 years among Yale goalies, trailing only her own .934 from last year and Sarah Love ‘06's .931 in 2003-04.

Yale finished the season 10-16-3 overall, 8-13-1 in ECAC Hockey.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity