January 7, 2007

Zilis Runs Scoreless Streak to 160:24 With 2-0 Shutout at RPI

Jan. 7, 2007

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TROY, N.Y. - Yale's goaltending plan heading into the weekend at Union and RPI was to give junior starter Shivon Zilis a rest Saturday against the Dutchwomen and put her back in Sunday against the Engineers. But with freshman backup Ansley LaHue a late scratch due to illness Zilis was pressed into duty for both games. She made the most of the extra work, finishing a scoreless weekend with a 2-0 shutout Sunday afternoon at Houston Field House that extended her scoreless streak to 160:24.

"Shivon played great," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "RPI had some quality chances. She made phenomenal saves, and she made the routine saves that she needed to."

After a relatively quiet 11-save shutout against Union, Zilis saw much more action Sunday afternoon and had to make several highlight-reel plays. She made back-to-back saves in a span of three seconds midway through the first period, and the Bulldogs got on the board right after that. Sophomore forward Crysti Howser brought the puck in to the RPI zone, stick handled her way through the defense, and fed senior forward Sheila Zingler on the backhand. Zingler sent the puck through traffic towards the net, where senior forward Jenna Spring grabbed it and potted it past RPI's Ashley Mayr at 9:39.

"Jenna went to the net hard," Witt said. "Because she went to the net hard she was in the right place at the right time to put it in the open net. She's putting herself in position to score goals and make plays."

Spring, who would add an assist later in the game, now has six points (3-3-6) in her last four games. Howser has seven points (3-4-7) in her last five games.

Yale had 3:40 of power play -- including 20 seconds of a 5-on-3 -- later in the period, but could not increase its lead. The Bulldogs caught some tough luck at the end of the first when Spring freed herself up for a wrist shot in the slot but hit the crossbar. On the faceoff after that Mayr was just able to get her pads down to stop a shot from Zingler, who pounced on a loose puck right outside the crease.

The Engineers continued to apply pressure in the second period, outshooting Yale 9-6 for that frame after holding a 10-6 edge in the first. They were aided by a series of penalties on Yale that included a tripping call on sophomore defenseman Carry Resor, the first time since Feb. 10 (22 games) that Resor incurred a penalty.

Zilis denied a wrister by Emily Donowick to help kill that one off. Shortly after it ended Mayr came up with a stick save on freshman forward Mandi Schwartz, who tried to slot a nice feed from freshman forward Denise Soesilo past the RPI netminder.

Zilis came up with a spectacular effort to keep Yale in the lead with 6:32 to play. Whitney Naslund, RPI's leading scorer (6-13-19), carried the puck in on a 2-on-1 and fed Allysen Weidner, the team's second-leading scorer (7-10-17), for what seemed like a sure goal. But Zilis somehow stretched her right leg back to deny Weidner and cover up the puck.

"That was quite a save," Witt said. "We didn't back check well on that play. Our defensemen pinched as they were supposed to do, but nobody got back to help out. Thank goodness for Shivon."

The second penalty of the period on Yale saw RPI control the puck in the Bulldog zone for nearly the entire time. But Zilis came up with a timely glove save on a slap shot from Jamie-Lynn Stewart midway through, enabling Yale to change to a fresh penalty-killing unit. Zingler was finally able to clear the puck with 30 seconds left in the power play, and sophomore forward Danielle Kozlowski's forechecking efforts kept it down in the RPI end.

That wound up setting up Yale's second goal. With the puck still in RPI's zone after a faceoff, Spring passed the puck back to sophomore defenseman Helen Resor open at the point. She teed up a powerful slap shot that sailed past Mayr's right shoulder at 3:19 for a 2-0 Yale lead.

Yale killed off another penalty at the end of the second period, highlighted by senior forward Christina Sharun sending a slap shot from just inside the Yale blue line all the way down the ice on the fly and on net, forcing Mayr to make the save.

The Bulldogs got a power play two minutes into the third but could not convert, and Mayr denied a wrist shot from sophomore forward Kristen Stupay midway through the period. Zilis made a nice glove save on a slap shot from the right point by Melanie Guillemette with 7:34 left, and shortly after that the Bulldogs went on the power play.

Yale did not score with the man advantage but did manage to control most of the action. Zilis gloved a wrist shot with 2:37 left and shortly after that the Engineers pulled Mayr. When Yale was whistled for a penalty with 1:58 to play that gave RPI a 6-on-4 advantage for the remainder of the game.

That two-man advantage wound up as a stalemate. The Bulldogs could not get a shot in the empty net, but the Engineers could not get one past Zilis at the other end either.

"I think we were very aggressive," Witt said of the game-ending penalty kill, one of five kills on the day for Yale. "We made RPI have to make perfect plays. Our kids stayed very composed. We didn't let them set up."

Zilis -- the first Yale goalie with back-to-back shutouts since Katie Hirte '02 blanked Williams and Bowdoin Nov. 24 and 29, 1998 -- has already seen more time in net this year (820:51) than she had in her first two years combined (571:02), when she had record-setter Sarah Love '06 in front of her. She now has shutouts in three of her last four outings.

"Shivon had a nice little rest for the holidays," Witt said in explaining Zilis' work since Yale resumed play Dec. 29. "She's having fun and playing with confidence, which is key for a goalie."

With the win, Yale (9-7-0, 5-6-0 ECAC) moved past RPI (8-12-1, 4-5-1 ECAC) into seventh place in the ECAC standings. The Bulldogs return to action at Ingalls Rink against No. 6 St. Lawrence and Clarkson next weekend.

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