Hughes' Buzzer-Beater Stuns Quinnipiac, 2-1

Jan. 31, 2009

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HAMDEN, Conn. - She had a game-tying goal wiped out earlier in the game due to a crease violation. So perhaps it was only fitting that freshman forward Aleca Hughes got another chance at a big goal Saturday afternoon against Quinnipiac at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. And when Hughes got that chance, she delivered. Her tally with only 3.3 seconds on the clock in regulation lifted Yale to a thrilling 2-1 win over the Bobcats.

"Aleca just kept plugging forward [after having her first goal disallowed] ," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "She has a lot of composure, which is a good attribute to have. She came back to the bench and just said `Let's get another one.'"

Hughes slid the puck past Quinnipiac goaltender Nanna Holm-Glaas after taking a pass from senior forward Crysti Howser in the neutral zone.

"Howser worked the puck up, which is something we had struggled to do," said Witt. "When we don't do that, we become one-dimensional. It was a nice play by Howser, and nice to see Aleca get a goal. She works hard every day."

That made it a two-point day for Howser, who also assisted on senior defenseman Helen Resor's game-tying goal in the second period. Freshman Genny Ladiges stopped 16 of 17 shots to earn the win in net.

Quinnipiac (3-21-4, 2-10-4 ECAC Hockey) had an early flurry, and senior defenseman Carry Resor saved a sure goal by backhanding a rebound out of the crease just before a Bobcat player could get to it 2:30 in. The Bulldogs generated a scoring chance at the other end when forechecking from sophomore forward Lili Rudis created a turnover in the Quinnipiac zone, but junior forward Berit Johnson just missed putting home Rudis' crossing pass.

After Yale (9-13-0, 5-10-0 ECAC Hockey) came up empty on a power play midway through the first, the Bobcats went ahead on a goal by forward Chelsea Illchuk at 11:05. Yale finished the period with a 10-6 edge in shots on goal, but trailed 1-0.

The Bulldogs went scoreless on their first two power plays of the second period, though right after the second one ended they nearly scored the game-tying goal. Hughes picked up a loose puck after a blocked Yale shot and knocked it past Holm-Glaas at the 15:05 mark, but the goal was waved off as a Yale player had drifted into the crease.

Twenty-six seconds later, another Bobcat penalty allowed the Bulldogs to knot the game at one. Howser worked the puck up top to Resor, whose wrister through traffic beat Holm-Glaas high on her glove side at 15:31.

"We did a good job getting a lot of traffic in front on that play, and Helen made a great shot," Witt said.

The Bulldogs had to kill off a penalty of their own late in the period, but Ladiges came up with a pair of big saves followed by a clear by sophomore defenseman Samantha MacLean.

A high-sticking call on Quinnipiac with 1:14 left in the second period gave Yale a power play that wrapped around to the third period. Holm-Glaas made a big kick save on a shot from in front by Resor to help bring that power play to an end.

A hitting from behind and game misconduct call on Quinnipiac two minutes into the third would have given Yale a golden chance to take the lead, but a pair of Yale penalties that followed left the teams skating 4-on-4 for much of that five-minute period -- and at one point even forced Yale to kill off a brief 4-on-3. The Bobcats were hit with another penalty before the first one expired, but the Bulldogs could not convert during the 5-on-3.

Yale just missed taking the lead with nine minutes remaining when Holm-Glaas stopped a shot from the slot by senior forward Sarah Tittman.

After getting back into the lineup Friday night for the first time since an injury a month earlier, Tittman helped give the Bulldogs the chance to roll four complete lines for the first time in several weeks Saturday afternoon. The team captain centered a line with a pair of freshmen, Lauren Davis and Becky Mantell.

"We've got to get people involved and give people opportunities, since we need people to step up," Witt said. "Lauren, Becky and Tittman did a lot of really good things today. Tittman has had to fight very hard to get back on the ice. She's a senior and one of our leaders, and she knows this is her last chance. We were able to put her out there in all kinds of situations."

The Bulldogs had another opportunity to break on top with six minutes to play, but sophomore forward Bray Ketchum's blast hit the cross bar and ricocheted all the way out into the stands.

A pair of matching penalties with 2:31 to play led to four-on-four hockey, but neither team could take advantage. Yale outshot Quinnipiac 13-6 in the third, but the game was not settled until Hughes' dramatic goal.

The Bulldogs and Bobcats had entered the day tied for ninth in the ECAC Hockey standings, so the win gives Yale sole possession of ninth. The top eight teams make the playoffs, and the Bulldogs are six points behind both Cornell and Rensselaer for the final playoff spot. Yale has seven games remaining, while Cornell and Rensselaer have six.

Yale plays at Harvard next Friday at 7:00 p.m.

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