Jan. 2, 2009
BOSTON - The way sophomore goaltender Jackee Snikeris has been playing these days, she doesn't need much more than one goal from the Yale offense to deliver a win. Freshman forward Aleca Hughes got her one midway through the second period Friday night at Northeastern, and senior forward Crysti Howser tacked on an empty-netter at the end, as Snikeris and the Bulldogs beat NU 2-0 for their fifth win in six games. It was also the fifth time in that stretch that Snikeris has held an opponent to one goal or less.
"Snik was great," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt, a Northeastern grad who has now beaten her alma mater four straight times. "She made some big saves at times when we needed them, when we weren't playing our system in our D-zone."
Snikeris' 22 stops on Friday night mean she has stopped 119 of 125 shots in her last six games, posting a .952 save percentage and a 1.00 goals-against average. This was also the second time she out-dueled Northeastern goaltending standout Leah Sulyma, who made 30 saves. Sulyma has allowed only two goals in the last two years against Yale but has lost both games because of Snikeris shutouts.
"Sulyma is a very solid goalie," Witt said. "She doesn't give a lot of second chances, and she's very quick."
Yale (7-6-0, 3-4-0 ECAC Hockey) had to kill a penalty 2:28 in, and Snikeris stopped a shot by forward Alyssa Wohlfeiler and forward Ali Bielawski's rebound attempt. A diving clear by senior forward Danielle Kozlowski got the puck out of the zone, and Northeastern (7-7-2, 4-4-0 Hockey East) was unable to set up on offense for the rest of the power play.
The Bulldogs had a golden chance to score nine minutes in when freshman forward Becky Mantell stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated in with Howser for a 2-on-1. Howser's shot off Mantell's pass went just high.
Howser drew Northeastern's first penalty when she was pulled down after a nice pass from junior defenseman Berit Johnson from the neutral zone with five minutes left in the period. The Bulldogs got a pair of shots from sophomore forward Bray Ketchum early on in the power play but after that the Huskies kept the puck out of their zone.
Shortly after the Yale power play ended the Huskies went on the attack, with forward Lindsay Berman skating the puck up from her own end and feeding forward Annie Hogan for an open shot from right in front. Snikeris snatched the shot out of the air with her glove. She made another nice save with 90 seconds left in the period, after a turnover gave forward Autumn Prouty the chance to skate in from the blue line and try a backhander. Snikeris got a piece of it to send it harmlessly into the corner.
Sulyma made a quick kick save with her right leg four minutes into the second period on a slap shot from sophomore defenseman Samantha MacLean to keep the game scoreless. The Bulldogs were whistled for a penalty a minute after that, but they brought the Huskies power play to a quick end when senior defenseman Helen Resor -- just back from USA Hockey's Holiday Camp -- and junior forward Caroline Murphy combined to force a turnover just outside the Northeastern zone that eventually caused defenseman Erin Reil to trip Murphy as she came charging in with the puck.
With the teams skating four-on-four Snikeris made a pair of saves, and the Bulldogs just missed a pair of scoring chances when they went on the abbreviated power play. Ketchum deflected a shot by Kozlowski wide, then wristed one from the crease that just missed the near post.
The Bulldogs finally broke through with a great individual effort. Freshman forward Aleca Hughes skated in along the right boards with a pass from freshman defenseman Heather Grant and beat Sulyma with a wrister at 9:16.
"Northeastern did a nice job of keeping the puck out of the middle," said Witt. "Aleca stayed wide and showed good composure. She picked her head up and found the one hole. It was a great play."
That also marked the third straight game with a point for Grant.
"Heather has stepped up," Witt said. "As a freshman, we're asking a lot of her, but she has been solid and consistent."
Snikeris kept the lead intact by stopping a hard slap shot from defenseman Stephanie Gavronsky with four minutes left in the second, then pouncing on the rebound to cover it up. Resor dove to the ice to break up a two-on-one for Northeastern with less than two minutes to play and the Bulldogs went into the second intermission up 1-0.
A penalty on Yale a minute in put Snikeris on the spot again, though Howser won the initial faceoff and Resor cleared the puck all the way around the boards and out of the Yale zone. The Huskies were eventually able to get the puck back in and Snikeris had to deny a tricky backhander from a spinning Reil right in front.
Sophomore forward Lili Rudis set Yale up for a potential insurance goal with five minutes to play, blocking a pass in the NU zone with her body and feeding Howser for a wrister, but that shot hit the left post.
The last minute, after an NU timeout, finally saw the Bulldogs get some breathing room. The Huskies won a faceoff in their zone but accidentally iced the puck. They won the next faceoff but had their attempt to get the puck through the neutral zone broken up by MacLean, who deflected the puck into the Yale bench area. After a faceoff just outside the NU zone with 47 seconds to play, the Huskies pulled Sulyma and tried playing the puck into the Yale zone. Resor intercepted it. With Howser skating in along with her, Resor got the puck to her for the clincher with 28 seconds to play.
Resor is now tied for the team lead in assists with eight, while Howser leads in goals (12) and points (18).
With six career shutouts, Snikeris is already tied for fifth on Yale's all-time list with Laurie Belliveau '98 and Maureen Magauran '92. Sarah Love '06 holds the record with 12.
Yale returns home to host No. 7 Boston College at Ingalls Rink Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity