January 12, 2008

Snikeris Holds Off QU; Third-Period Outburst Seals 5-2 Win

Jan. 12, 2008

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HAMDEN, Conn. - The signs all pointed to Saturday's contest at Quinnipiac as a "trap game" for Yale: the Bulldogs were coming off an emotional win over long-time rival Princeton the night before, they had not arrived back in New Haven until early Saturday morning, and they were facing a team with a losing record. But while her teammates slowly got into the flow freshman goaltender Jackee Snikeris was on her game, holding Quinnipiac at bay until a three-goal third finalized the 5-2 win for the Bulldogs. She stopped 28 of 30 shots for the day.

"The thing about Quinnipiac is they are a good team and their record (3-14-4, 0-10-3 ECAC Hockey) is not indicative of their ability," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "With a couple of bounces they could have had some more wins. I was concerned. There are no easy games."

The Bulldogs have been alternating goaltenders all season, so Saturday was Snikeris' chance to contribute on the ice after watching senior Shivon Zilis stop 40 of 43 shots against Princeton Friday.

"Snik did a great job," said Witt. "She kept us ahead, and she deserved to have some goals scored for her. We have a ton of confidence in both of our goalies. They support one another, and that's made a difference in our team."

It was apparent right from the start that the Bulldogs needed Snikeris to be at her best. A turnover at the side of the Yale net 15 seconds in gave Erica Bolognino a golden chance right in front, but Snikeris turned that shot aside. Two minutes later she snagged a pass from the left circle by Elyse Cole that appeared headed for a wide-open Bobcat in the slot.

Five of the first six shots on goal for the game came from Quinnipiac, but the Bulldogs made their opportunity count. After a scramble in front of Bobcat netminder Jamie Miller the puck came loose to junior defenseman Carlee Ness at the right point, and she quickly sent the puck back towards the net with a slap shot. Junior forward Kristen Stupay was perfectly positioned to deflect that one home to make it 1-0 Yale at the four-minute mark.

Quinnipiac tied the score on a power-play goal by Elyse Cole four minutes later, as she knocked a rebound past Snikeris. The first period ended with the score tied at one.

The Bulldogs enjoyed a burst of offensive activity at the start of the second, and it culminated with a goal. Junior forward Crysti Howser put the Bobcats back on their heels with a series of moves in the offensive zone, and when junior defenseman Helen Resor sent a blast on net sophomore forward Mandi Schwartz was waiting for the rebound. It was Schwartz' second goal of the season and snapped a 13-game drought for her.

"Mandi's an offensive threat every time she's out there," said Witt. "Hopefully this will get her going."

Yale (7-6-4, 5-5-2 ECAC Hockey) kept the pressure on Miller even while on a penalty kill midway through the second. Howser fed Westfal in front but the puck went wide after hitting her skate, and Westfal's attempt to send it back in front hit the post.

Quinnipiac regrouped and nearly took advantage of an unfortunate fall by a Yale defenseman with seven minutes left in the second. That left Antoinette Maldonado skating in all alone on Snikeris, but Maldonado's moves did not fool the freshman. Snikeris got her left leg out to deny the shot attempt, and for good measure also denied Vicky Graham's attempt to put in the rebound. The Bulldog lead remained 2-1 heading into the third period.

Tittman provided further breathing room two minutes in. Senior defenseman Ann-Renee Guillemette put a shot on net that Miller saved, but junior forward Danielle Kozlowski chipped the rebound back at her and Tittman was eventually able to get it past her for her 10th goal of the year.

A penalty on Yale with 14 minutes to play gave the Bobcats a chance to creep closer, but Schwartz highlighted the penalty kill with a pair of diving blocks. On another penalty kill five minutes later Kozlowski pulled off a similar feat, blocking a pair of shots from the left point by Nicolette Leone, controlling the puck and clearing it.

The Bulldogs caught a tough break when freshman defenseman Samantha MacLean's apparent goal with eight minutes to play was waved off because a teammate had drifted into the crease. They got a break right back, though, a minute later. Resor got credit for a goal when her centering pass deflected in off a Quinnipiac player.

Junior forward Maggie Westfal's tally with four minutes to play, assisted by sophomore defenseman Alyssa Clarke, put the game out of reach. Danielle Alexieff's goal with a minute to play made the final 5-2.

Snikeris has stopped 66 of 70 shots in her last three games (.943) and has a 1.27 goals-against average in that stretch.

Yale visits No. 4 Mercyhurst and Niagara next weekend.

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