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Leonoff’s 52 Saves Help Yale Earn 3-3 Tie with No. 5/6 Clarkson

Jaimie Leonoff and Aurora Kennedy. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Jaimie Leonoff and Aurora Kennedy. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Haddad, Tarrant and Staenz score

NEW HAVEN, Conn – The Yale women's ice hockey team delivered its second straight solid performance against a top-10 team Friday night at Ingalls Rink, battling No. 5/6 Clarkson to a 3-3 tie. Junior goalkeeper Jaimie Leonoff made 52 saves, the most she has made in more than two years. The Bulldogs scored twice in the third period for the tie, including the first career goal by freshman forward Gretchen Tarrant.

Yale (6-10-2, 4-5-2 ECAC Hockey) was coming off a 2-0 win at No. 5 Harvard, while Clarkson (16-4-3, 7-2-2 ECAC Hockey) had a five-game winning streak and had not allowed a goal in its last three games.

"Clarkson is as good as any team in our league," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. "They pushed us to the brink tonight, but Jaimie Leonoff kept us in the game."

The defenses dominated the opening minutes, as the two teams combined for just three shots in the first five and a half minutes. All of those shots were by Clarkson, and all were stopped by Leonoff. Yale's first shot came on a penalty kill at 5:42, as Clarkson goalie Erica Howe denied freshman defenseman Taylor Marchin's short-handed attempt. Marchin later made one of the best defensive plays of the period, hustling back to get her body in front of a pass and breaking up a dangerous two-on-one for the Golden Knights.

The first two goals of the game came during a Yale penalty late in the first. The Bulldogs opened the scoring when freshman forward Phoebe Staenz won a faceoff in the Yale end and worked the puck ahead to sophomore forward Jamie Haddad. Haddad drove in on the right side before sniping one short-handed past Howe at 18:16. That was Yale's third short-handed goal of the season.

A minute later, however, and with just 24.7 seconds left in the first period, Clarkson defenseman Erin Ambrose tied the game on a shot that got deflected past Leonoff.

As the second period wore on, Leonoff continued to rack up the saves. At 4:30 she made a great adjustment to deny a redirection by forward Shannon MacAulay from right in front of the net. Leonoff then swallowed up a shot by forward Cayley Mercer as Mercer attempted to finish off a two-on-one midway through the period.

With less than eight minutes to play in the period, Mercer tried to deke Leonoff out of position, but Leonoff stayed with her to deny the shot and keep the game tied. Thirty seconds later Leonoff stopped forward Jamie Lee Rattray's attempt to jam the puck in at the post.

Yale had several chances to take the lead on a power play with 6:29 left in the period, but Clarkson blocked a pair of shots by Marchin and Howe made saves on Staenz and sophomore defenseman Kate Martini.

As they had done in the first, the Golden Knights scored late in the second. This time, Ambrose made a perfect pass through the slot to a wide-open Rattray at the 18:07 mark to make it 2-1 heading into the third.

The Bulldogs tied the game on the first career goal by Tarrant at 5:57. Senior defenseman Aurora Kennedy got the play started behind the Yale net, sending a pass along the boards that freshman forward Abby Gahm got a piece of. Tarrant got the puck in the neutral zone, skated inside the blue line on the left side and sent one on net that trickled through the five hole.

"That line (Gahm, Tarrant and senior forward Patricia McGauley) was very good tonight," said Flygh. "As a team we were getting a little tired, and every shift we gave to that line in the third period they gave us great energy. They were great on the forecheck and great at creating turnovers. They followed the game plan to a T."

The momentum from that goal was short-lived, however, as Clarkson quickly re-took the lead on a goal by forward Brittany Styner. She knocked in a rebound slightly more than a minute after Tarrant's goal.

The Bulldogs battled back once again, though, getting a goal by Staenz. Senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto intercepted a clearing pass at the blue line, then sent it to Staenz in the slot for the goal. Staenz showed the type of skills that have earned her a spot on the Swiss Olympic Team, maneuvering around a defender and scoring while falling to the ice.

"I thought this was the best game Phoebe has played at Yale," said Flygh. "She was all over the ice, creating offense for herself and her teammates. It was a great second effort on that goal. If anyone was going to score that one, it was going to be Phoebe. It's fun to watch her play."

Yale got a scare 30 seconds later when Leonoff stayed on the ice for several moments in pain after making a save. After a visit from trainer Chuck Marino, she eventually got back on her skates and remained in the game.

"She cramped up," said Flygh. "Obviously seeing her on the ice makes you nervous, especially given the type of game she was having. She definitely kept us in this game."

Leonoff showed no ill effects four minutes later, sprawling out to make a save on forward Olivia Howe. Leonoff also flashed the leather to make a glove save on defenseman Vanessa Plante with two minutes to play. She finished off regulation with 50 saves, including a kick save on MacAulay with 70 seconds to play.

Clarkson had a series of chances to win the game midway through overtime, but Leonoff denied back-to-back chances by defenseman Renata Fast and forward Shelby Nisbet. Right after that, a long pass from the Clarkson zone found Rattray -- Clarkson's leading scorer -- all alone just outside the Yale zone. But after skating in on Leonoff she fired a shot off the left post, and the score remained tied.

A penalty on the Golden Knights with 1:08 left gave Yale a power play, but Howe made saves on Kennedy and Martini. The final horn sounded with Yale pressuring the Golden Knights in the Clarkson zone, finishing off a hard-fought point in the ECAC Hockey standings.

This was the most saves in a game for Leonoff since she stopped 63 at Mercyhurst Nov. 19, 2011.

Yale hosts St. Lawrence Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity