Jan. 19, 2008
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - By now Yale freshman goaltender Jackee Snikeris must be used to it. She recorded her third shutout of the season Saturday night, but for most of the night it looked like Yale was not going to score either. Sophomore defenseman Alyssa Clarke finally broke the 0-0 tie with a power-play goal at 3:50 of the third -- the first of two goals in the period for her -- and Yale finished with a 3-0 victory.
It was the fourth time in Snikeris' last five appearances that Yale has gone scoreless through the game's first two periods. The Bulldogs have garnered two wins and a tie in those games largely due to the freshman's efforts.
"I don't think it fazes her," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "She just does her thing and lets the offense take care of itself. She played great tonight and definitely kept us in the game. She made things look easy."
Niagara (6-12-4) outshot Yale (8-7-4) 15-13 over the first two periods, but Snikeris stopped them all. The third period saw the Bulldogs translate a 15-8 edge in shots into three goals.
"We got away from our style in the first two periods," said Witt. "When we got back to our style in the third period we started scoring."
The scoring drought was ended by the Yale power play unit, as sophomore forward Mandi Schwartz fed Clarke for a shot from the blue line that sailed high over a Niagara player and past Zelonis.
A power-play goal from junior forward Crysti Howser at 8:13 made it 2-0, as she tipped in a hard shot from the point by freshman defenseman Samantha MacLean. Howser, who won 18 of 23 face-offs Saturday night, finished with her first four-point weekend (2-2-4) since Nov. 9-10.
As the final minutes ticked off the Bulldogs kept the pressure on despite a late penalty, and the Purple Eagles did not have a chance to pull goalie Jill Zelonis (25 saves). Clarke scored a short-handed goal with three seconds left, assisted by Howser and freshman forward Bray Ketchum. Clarke now has five points in the last four games.
"Clarkie stepped up big time," said Witt. "She got pucks to the net. That was what we kept preaching."
The Bulldogs also did a better job containing Purple Eagle forward Ashley Riggs this time around. Riggs had three goals and 10 shots when these two teams met three weeks ago in the Nutmeg Classic, a 4-4 tie which Yale won on a shootout. On Saturday Riggs got six shots and no goals.
"Snik did a good job finding her, because she usually is able to make plays around the net and grab rebounds," Witt said. "Our forwards also did a good job helping out down low."
Snikeris finished with 23 saves and has allowed only four goals in her last four games (0.96 goals-against average, .957 save percentage). Her save percentage for the season is .912, placing her 14th in the country in that stat. With senior goaltender Shivon Zilis seventh (.928), Yale is the only school with two players in the top 14.
Snikeris and the Bulldogs held Niagara scoreless on five power plays. Yale killed off 13 of 14 penalties on the weekend.
Yale, which is 5-2-2 in its last nine games, returns home next weekend to face ECAC Hockey foes Colgate and Cornell at Ingalls Rink. The Bulldogs are tied for sixth in the standings with the Raiders, one point ahead of the Big Red. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (email@example.com), Yale Sports Publicity