Two Goals for Hughes as Yale Beats Brown 4-2

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Aleca Hughes. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Dunbar Gets First Two Career Points

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's ice hockey team got a taste of just how tough it is to earn points in the ECAC Hockey standings late in the season Tuesday night against Brown, as the Bears nearly rallied back from a three-goal deficit in the third. But after Brown -- seeking just its second win in conference play this season -- closed to within 3-2 with five minutes to play, the Bulldogs were able to hold on for the much-needed victory. Junior forward Aleca Hughes sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final seconds, her second goal of the game.

Hughes' efforts gave her the team lead in goals for the season with 10. More importantly, she helped the Bulldogs remain in the hunt for one of ECAC Hockey's eight playoff spots. With 16 points in conference play, the Bulldogs enter the final weekend of the season two points behind the three teams tied for seventh (Colgate, RPI and St. Lawrence).

"I'm happy for the kids to get a win," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. "That's all we needed. We can't worry about whether it was pretty or not."

The Bulldogs also got much-needed offensive production from their second line. Freshman forward Jenna Ciotti had the game-winning goal at Brown the last time these two teams played, and freshman forward Jackie Raines had a pair of goals and an assist. Those two continued to haunt the Bears defense Tuesday night, combining for four points again. But the highlight of the night was the third member of that line, freshman forward Ashley Dunbar, picking up her first career points with a pair of assists. Dunbar had missed the game vs. Brown earlier in the month due to injury, but on Tuesday night her recent run of offensive contributions finally yielded tangible results.

"It's great to see that they are chipping in with the scoring," said Flygh of the all-freshmen line.

While Yale had a 3-0 lead after the first period of the team's earlier meeting, this game featured a scoreless first frame in which the Bears outshot the Bulldogs 12-6. Penalties were even at three, though the Bulldogs did have a 5-on-3 for more than a minute midway through the period. The second Bears penalty came as sophomore forward Jen Matichuk was sent to the ice while getting off a wrist shot in the slot.

Brown (2-22-3, 1-16-3 ECAC Hockey, 11th) killed off the two-man advantage, and right as the remaining advantage was expiring a block by forward Erica Kromm enabled the Bears to take the puck down to the other end of the ice for a shot by forward Vanessa Welten that senior goalie Jackee Snikeris stopped. The final three penalties of the period were all on Yale, including one that wrapped around to the start of the second period.

The Bulldogs killed off the remainder of that penalty, and another one 90 seconds into the second period. Yale had a goal waved off at 5:33, and a minute later the Bulldogs incurred another penalty. Raines started that penalty kill off with a block, and a turnover in the Brown zone gave senior forward Bray Ketchum a chance to try a short-handed shot that was deflected up into the netting.

Shortly after that the Bulldogs got the goal they needed. Dunbar broke up a pass in the neutral zone and Raines got the puck just inside the Yale zone. She passed it to Ciotti in the neutral zone, got it back from Ciotti in the Brown zone and then quickly sent it right back to Ciotti. Ciotti's snipe from a tough angle low in the right circle caught Brown goalie Katie Jamieson by surprise as it whistled past her, top shelf, to give Yale a 1-0 lead at 9:06.

Junior defenseman Heather Grant hit the post with a slap shot during a Yale power play later in the second. The Yale lead remained 1-0 heading into the third period.

The Bulldogs took control early in the third, ironically right after another penalty on Yale. Just 16 seconds into that kill, sophomore forward Alyssa Zupon drew a penalty on the Bears that left the two teams skating 4-on-4. Jamieson made a spectacular kick save on a slap shot from Grant, but down at the other end Snikeris responded by denying forward Jessica Hoyle after a pass from Welten found its way to Hoyle after deflecting off a Yale skate in the slot.

Right after that Hughes poked in the rebound of her own shot, and the Bulldogs had a 2-0 lead at 5:59. Matichuk and sophomore defenseman Jamie Gray assisted on the play. Raines then scored 25 seconds later, as Dunbar sent the puck off the boards in the Yale zone to Ciotti and Ciotti got it to Raines in the neutral zone.

Snikeris' bid for a shutout was spoiled when a shot by forward Laurie Jolin snuck in under her pads with 6:46 to play. Ninety seconds later, forward Alena Polenska poked in a rebound to bring the Bears within 3-2.

A pair of Yale penalties made the game's final minutes hectic. The first one came with 3:25 to play, and only a series of saves by Snikeris kept the Bears from tying the game. She stopped four shots, including a tip from forward Jenna Dancewicz right in front of the net.

With just over a minute to play Snikeris made another great save, denying Jolin after she walked the puck in from just off to Snikeris' left. Snikeris finished with 32 saves, while Jamieson made 19.

A penalty on the Bulldogs with 27.3 seconds left gave the Bears the chance to pull Jamieson for a two-skater advantage. But Hughes backhanded the puck out of the Yale zone before the Bears could get off a shot. Zupon -- who won 15 of 22 face-offs on the night -- hustled down to the other end of the ice, and her forechecking resulted in a turnover that enabled Hughes to fire in an empty-netter from the right circle that finally put the game away.

The Bulldogs wound up killing off all nine Brown power plays, but went 0-for-6 with the man advantage themselves.

"There were a lot of penalties both ways," said Flygh. "I wasn't happy with our power play, but we did a good job on the kill. We blocked shots and put pressure on them."

Yale (8-16-3, 7-11-2 ECAC Hockey, 10th) hosts Quinnipiac Friday night.

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