Late Night at Schneider Arena Ends in Victory
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – It took nearly two and a half extra hours to get the game started Friday night as the Yale women's ice hockey team visited Providence, but freshman forward Phoebe Staenz made it worth the wait for the Bulldogs. Staenz scored four goals -- and junior goalkeeper Jaimie Leonoff made 38 saves -- as Yale beat the Friars 5-1 in the final game before winter break.
The start of the game was delayed due a malfunction that left the scoreboard stuck on the ice well past the 7:00 p.m. scheduled start time. It was 8:25 p.m. when the scoreboard finally came off the ice, and an hour later the teams finally faced off.
Once the game began it did not take long for Staenz to set the tone. She scored twice in the first period, and both goals came in transition. The first was set up by a pass from freshman defenseman Taylor Marchin in the Yale zone that found Staenz all alone at PC's blue line. From there Staenz took the puck in on Friars netminder Sarah Bryant, flipping it in over Bryant's outstretched left leg with a backhanded shot for a 1-0 lead at the 3:53 mark.
Staenz had to deal with slightly more traffic on the second goal. From the left wing, sophomore forward Hanna Åström sent a pass into the slot. Junior forward Stephanie Mock was tied up by the Providence defense in front, but kept the puck alive. Staenz poked it in at the far post to put Yale ahead by two at 11:12.
Staenz' early scores helped assuage any concerns about how Yale would deal with the unusually long delay at the start of the game.
"I think Phoebe just took charge of the game," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. "Scoring early gave us some jump. That first period was definitely our best period."
The Bulldogs kept up the offensive pressure when they got their first power play of the game at 11:53 of the first. They kept the puck in the Providence zone for nearly 90 seconds, but were unable to increase their lead.
The first Yale penalty of the game, at 15:52 of the first, very nearly led to a short-handed goal for the Bulldogs. After freshman forward Krista Yip-Chuck won the faceoff, senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto's wrister from low in the right circle hit the cross bar. Leonoff made three saves to finish off that penalty kill, and Yale went into the first intermission up 2-0.
Staenz completed the hat trick at 13:36 of the second, beating Bryant high on her glove side after a nice pass from Åström. That made her the first Yale player with a hat trick since sophomore forward Janelle Ferrara got one vs. Dartmouth Nov. 2, 2012.
Mock assisted on that play as well, and with nine points (3-6-9) for the season she has already nearly doubled her point total from a year ago (2-3-5). Åström has already equaled her point total from a year ago (2-5-7), another sign of the impact that Yale's "United Nations Line" is having this year. With representatives from Sweden (Åström), Switzerland (Staenz) and the United States (Mock), that line has 16 points in the last three games.
"The great thing about them is that they communicate well and feed off each other," said Flygh. "They are starting to click, and I know they like playing with each other. We moved Phoebe to center in the Minnesota series, and that has given her more opportunities to handle the puck."
A power play with 16:51 left gave Providence its last chance to get back into the game. But a pair of saves by Leonoff and blocked shots by Ferrara and sophomore forward Jamie Haddad stymied the Friars' offense. Staenz ended the successful penalty kill by disrupting a pass to a wide-open forward Brittany Thunstrom down low.
Providence (7-11-0, 3-5-0 Hockey East) finally broke through with 13:44 to play, when forward Stephanie Demars tucked a shot inside the far post from the right circle to break up the shutout bid by Leonoff.
Bryant came up with one of her best saves a minute later, closing up the five hole to deny freshman forward Gretchen Tarrant and keep the Friars within striking distance. Staenz, however, put the game out of reach minutes later with a short-handed goal. First she blocked a shot in the Yale zone, then she outraced two Providence defenders before depositing the puck past Bryant at 12:03.
Staenz now has 14 points (6-8-14) in the six games since she returned from playing for Team Switzerland at the Smile Japan Bridgestone Blizzak Challenge in Tokyo. With 16 points in 11 games overall, she is second in the nation in points per game among freshmen.
Senior forward Patricia McGauley capped the scoring, picking up her first goal of the year with 2:20 remaining. Marchin assisted on the play.
While Staenz shouldered much of the scoring load Friday, McGauley's goal was a fitting reward for Yale's third line of (McGauley, Tarrant and freshman Abby Gahm, a converted defenseman).
"That was a nice goal by Patricia McGauley," said Flygh. "It was a great shot by Taylor Marchin, and Patricia was right in front for the tip. That third line is giving us what we need every night."
Leonoff made 19 of her 38 saves in the third period. Bryant finished with 23 stops. The final horn sounded at 11:20 p.m., but it was worth the wait for the Bulldogs. With the win, Yale enters the break with memories of the 0-5-0 start to the season fading fast. The Bulldogs have gone 4-3-1 since that rough beginning.
"We knew we had a tough schedule at the start of the season, with games at BU and BC and the tough road trip to Clarkson and St. Lawrence," said Flygh. "But outside of that trip to Clarkson and St. Lawrence our effort has been good. The kids have really responded to coaching. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so we had to give them some time."
Yale (4-8-1, 2-3-1 ECAC Hockey) returns to the ice Jan. 3 vs. Colgate at Ingalls Rink.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity