February 2, 2007

Bulldogs Salvage 2-2 Tie at Quinnipiac

Feb. 2, 2007

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HAMDEN, Conn. - The Quinnipiac Bobcats were 10.5 seconds away from capping Dedication Week at TD Banknorth Sports Center with a win. Yale sophomore forward Crysti Howser canceled the celebration by scoring the game-tying goal, and the Bulldogs and Bobcats wound up settling for a 2-2 tie in overtime.

Yale (12-10-2, 7-8-2 ECAC) had won the two earlier meetings between these teams by a combined score of 10-4, but it was clear early on that Friday's game would be a battle. The first period was scoreless until a tripping call and an obstruction-holding call against the Bulldogs within a span of 58 seconds gave the Bobcats a 5-on-3 advantage. Trudy Reyns knocked one past Yale junior goaltender Shivon Zilis on that power play at 17:12 to give Quinnipiac the lead. It was the first goal scored in the new multi-million dollar facility by a Quinnipiac women's hockey player, as Mercyhurst had blanked the Bobcats 3-0 in the first game last Saturday.

The Bobcats outshot Yale 13-8 in the second period thanks in large part to four whistles against the Bulldogs. One of those penalties, an obstruction-holding call, led to a power-play goal by Natashia Pellatt at 7:31 that extended Quinnipiac's lead to 2-0.

"We weren't skating as hard as we can, and Quinnipiac was skating hard," Yale head coach Hilary Witt said. "If you're not skating and they are, you're going to get a lot of penalties -- tripping, hooking, holding -- preventable penalties that got us in trouble. Give Quinnipiac credit. They took advantage of the power plays."

Quinnipiac (7-20-2, 4-12-1 ECAC) also played some tough defense, blocking a total of 10 Yale shots through the first two periods.

"They did a really good job of clogging up the middle," Witt said. "They blocked a ton of shots. They stepped in front of kids. We didn't shoot the puck hard enough or high enough, so they blocked it. They did what they needed to in the D zone."

Yale came out looking like a different team in the third period, and would outshoot the Bobcats 11-2 in that frame. A string of five straight penalties against the Bulldogs finally ended when QU was called for hooking at 5:04, and a goaltender interference call against the Bobcats at 8:21 gave Yale a chance to creep closer.

Sophomore defenseman Helen Resor, back in the lineup after missing five games with an injury, got the puck high in the left circle and looked ready to try a slap shot. But given space by the Quinnipiac defense Resor closed in on the net before snapping off a shot that senior forward Jenna Spring tipped up in the air in front of the net. The puck wound up dropping in behind QU goalie Janelle Wolitski for a goal at the 9:30 mark.

The Bobcats very nearly got their two-goal lead back only 20 seconds later, but Zilis came up with a clutch glove save on Kristin Alcorn. A Bobcat penalty with 7:35 left in the game helped Yale turn up the offensive pressure, but Wolitski was up to the task. She denied Howser from right in front of the net off a pass from senior forward Sheila Zingler, then sticked aside another attempt by Howser after she threaded her way through the Bobcat defense.

When Zingler came up empty on a breakaway and freshman forward Denise Soesilo hit the crossbar with 3:30 left, it looked more and more as if it was not meant to be for the Bulldogs.

Yale called timeout with 2:20 to play. Freshman defenseman Berit Johnson whistled a slap shot just wide of the net with 90 seconds to play, and shortly after that the Bulldogs pulled Zilis for an extra attacker. Wolitski smothered a wrister from Howser with 40 seconds to play, but the Bulldogs kept the pressure on. With the clock winding down, sophomore defenseman Maggie Westfal leapt up to knock down a puck that was headed out of the zone. Westfal sent the puck into a crowd of players in front of the net, and after Zingler got a piece of it Howser slipped it past Wolitski with 10.5 seconds left.

"I knew that we were going to go out there and work hard," Witt said of her team's approach to the final seconds. "We usually do pretty well when we pull our goalie, especially with getting the puck to the net. I thought that Maggie Westfal made a phenomenal play keeping the puck in -- she had to leave her feet and reach up. If that had went all they way down to the other end of the ice, it probably would have ended the game. It was a great play that shouldn't go overlooked. She got the puck to the net and then they battled hard down low. We need to battle like that the whole game, not just with 10 seconds to go."

After the frenzied finish, overtime was relatively quiet as each team managed only one shot on goal. Zilis finished with 19 saves while Wolitski had 24.

Yale travels to Princeton for a 4:00 p.m. game Saturday. With sixth-place RPI losing to Dartmouth 3-0, seventh-place Yale has closed to within one point of the Engineers. Yale also maintained a two-point lead over eighth-place Clarkson, which tied Cornell 1-1.

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