Ladiges Makes 30 Saves
STORRS, Conn. – A pair of Yale shots hit the pipe in the third period, and on a night where offense was hard to come by that made all the difference. Robert Morris came away with a 1-0 win over the Bulldogs Friday night at UConn's Freitas Ice Forum on a third-period goal by forward Thea Imbrogno, advancing to the championship of the Nutmeg Classic. Yale goalie Genny Ladiges made 30 saves.
This marks just the second time in the tournament's eight-year history that Yale has lost in the first round. The Bulldogs came into Friday night's game as heavy underdogs, given that they had one win on the season while Robert Morris had one loss. But with help from Ladiges, Yale played the Colonials evenly for most of the night. This was the fewest goals Yale has allowed in a game all season, and tied for the fewest shots Yale has allowed. The Bulldogs also had their second-lowest penalty total of the year (four).
"We played as well defensively as we have all year long," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. "We're getting better and better, but you can't win if you don't score."
After winning just once in their first 11 games, the Bulldogs took a brief break this past week. There were no classes, and with Thanksgiving in the mix as well the much-needed time off may have helped re-energize the team.
"It was not a bad thing to have a little bit of a break," said Flygh. "It was good mental relief. We took an extra day off to help ourselves heal up after a long road trip (to No. 9 Mercyhurst last weekend). We had a good week of practice with a lot of energy."
Ladiges had a busy first period, stopping all 11 shots she faced. The Bulldogs did not get a shot on goal for the first eight minutes, but they then got two in a span of 30 seconds from senior forward Aleca Hughes and senior defenseman Heather Grant. But shortly after that a pair of penalties on Yale gave RMU a 5-on-3 for 73 seconds. Grant got a clear 15 seconds in, and after a pair of saves by Ladiges the Bulldogs cleared the puck again and freshman forward Lynn Kennedy was able to chase it down in the RMU zone to kill off more valuable seconds. After junior forward Alyssa Zupon won a faceoff in the neutral zone, junior defenseman Jamie Gray dumped the puck into the RMU zone and the Bulldogs were soon back at full strength.
After getting outshot 11-2 in the first the Bulldogs managed to largely even out the shots in the second period (8-6 RMU), and each team had its chances. Yale got its first power play of the game 90 seconds into the period but only managed a deflection of a shot by freshman defenseman Madi Murray that went wide off the stick of junior forward Danielle Moncion. After a Bulldog penalty three minutes later sophomore forward Jackie Raines blocked a shot and that led to a short-handed chance for Moncion at the other end of the ice that RMU goalie Kristen DiCiocco gloved.
Yale's second power play of the period saw more offensive chances, with Grant sending a slap shot wide and Hughes putting a wrister high. Back at even strength, a deflection of a shot by Gray bounced wide.
Ladiges made one of her biggest stops of the second by denying Colonials forward Kelsey Thomas right in front of the net with 6:30 to play in the period. Yale got one more power play, for the final two minutes, but was unable to score.
The Colonials got the game's first goal on a power play in the third, when a blocked shot popped right to Imbrogno in the right circle and she rifled it in at the 3:04 mark.
The final signs that it was not going to be Yale's night came midway through the third. First, freshman forward Stephanie Mock slid one just wide of the net, hitting the bar with a thud at the 9:45 mark; immediately after that the Bulldogs heard a "ping" as Raines' backhand attempt in the slot hit the crossbar. Then, four minutes later, Zupon's shot hit the bar along the ice just to DiCiocco's left and bounced through to the other side of the crease, where if there had been any Bulldogs they would have had an open net to shoot at. Instead, the Colonials came away with the puck and could breathe a sigh of relief.
"You create your own luck, but it feels like we haven't gotten the bounces all year," said Flygh.
Hughes tried a long wrister with four minutes to play that DiCiocco gloved. In the final minutes Yale was never able to maintain possession long enough in the RMU zone to pull Ladiges for an extra skater, and the Colonials finished off the win.
Quinnipiac beat host UConn 4-2 in the other first-round game to advance to Saturday night's championship game. Yale and UConn play the consolation game at 4 p.m., while Quinnipiac and RMU play for the championship at 7 p.m.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity