February 2, 2008

Third-Period Rally Lifts Yale to 3-3 Tie at Dartmouth

Feb. 1, 2008

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HANOVER, N.H. - A two-goal lead in the third period for Dartmouth at Thompson Arena is normally safe. The Big Green has won more than 70 percent of its home games over the past 30 years, and when Dartmouth entered the final stanza Friday night leading 3-1 it looked as if it was ready to add another win against Yale. But in the span of 25 seconds early in the third that all changed, as a pair of Bulldog goals knotted the score. Freshman goaltender Jackee Snikeris then shut the door on the Big Green the rest of the way for a hard-fought tie.

Junior forward Crysti Howser was in the midst of the comeback as part of a three-point night. She got the Bulldogs going at the 5:22 mark of the third by grabbing a long pass from freshman defenseman Samantha MacLean in the neutral zone and taking on a pair of Dartmouth defenders. Howser stickhandled past one of them and then sent a wrister on net that deflected off the other defender and into the back of the net high on Carli Clemis' glove side.

The Big Green barely had time to recover from that goal before the Bulldogs struck again, once more with Howser playing a key role. Clemis had trouble handling a blast from the right point by junior defenseman Alyssa Clarke, and Howser controlled the rebound low in the slot. She spotted junior forward Maggie Westfal just outside the crease behind Clemis and fed the puck to her for the game-tying goal. The two tallies came in a span of 25 seconds.

This was Howser's third multiple-point outing in the last five games, and after scoring only two goals in her first 15 games she has four in her last five. She was held without a shot on goal in the first period Friday night, but got five the rest of the way.

"In the third period she started to shoot, which is something she has to keep doing," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "You can't always look for pretty goals. She did a great job putting herself in a position to score."

This was just the second time in the last 46 meetings between these two teams that Yale came away with a point. Two years ago the Bulldogs snapped a 41-game losing streak in the series with a 1-0 win. On Friday night they showed that they could handle the daunting task of making a third-period comeback on the road against a traditional powerhouse.

"We stressed the fact that we still had 20 minutes to play," Witt said of the team's third-period preparation. "The kids did a great job. A bounce here or there makes a difference in a game like this. Howser got the puck to the net and it deflected in off of one of their players. Goals like that change momentum."

The Bulldogs started out strong in this one but wound up having to make a comeback because Clemis was on her game. Yale (9-8-5, 6-6-3 ECAC Hockey) didn't have a shot on goal until a 5-on-3 seven minutes into the first period, but with the two-man advantage the Bulldogs began peppering Clemis. After junior defenseman Helen Resor sent a slap shot high, freshman forward Bray Ketchum sent another one on net that Clemis got her glove on, deflecting it up into the air momentarily before she finally grabbed it. Moments later Clemis was out of position after making a stop but forward Shannon Bowman managed to block Howser's shot at the open net.

Right after the 5-on-3 ended the Bulldogs caught a tough break. With Big Green forward Sarah Parsons chasing after a loose puck that drifted into the Yale zone, Snikeris came out of the net and attempted to send the puck back up the ice. But her pass went right into Parsons. Parsons kept going with the puck and knocked it into the empty net for a 1-0 Dartmouth lead at 9:03.

That ended Snikeris' scoreless streak at 130:21, and the Big Green (11-7-4, 8-5-2 ECAC Hockey) got right back on the scoreboard when defenseman Amy Cobb sent a shot through traffic past Snikeris 54 seconds after Parsons' goal.

Yale closed the gap by taking advantage of the Big Green in transition. From the Yale zone Howser hit Westfal with a pass just outside the Dartmouth zone, and she touched it ahead for sophomore forward Mandi Schwartz. Schwartz skated in all alone on Clemis and rifled the puck in to bring Yale within one at the 15:53 mark.

The Big Green used a power play to go back up by two goals at 8:43 of the second, as defenseman Julia Bronson blasted a slap shot over Snikeris' left shoulder. The Bulldogs then had to kill off a 5-on-3 three minutes later. Sophomore forward Caroline Murphy got the penalty kill started by winning a faceoff in the neutral zone, battling past a Big Green defender and getting off a short-handed shot. But Yale could not take advantage of a power play of its own at the end of the period, and Snikeris wound up having to make a stick save on Sarah Newnam after a turnover in the Yale zone. Snikeris also had to glove a long-distance blast by Katie Gray as the second period ended.

The pair of Yale goals changed momentum quickly in the third. The Bulldogs then had a golden chance to go ahead with a 5-on-3 with four minutes left, but the Big Green killed that off. Snikeris had to make a quick save on Sarah Parsons right in front of the net with 15 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to OT.

The Big Green put three shots on net against Snikeris in the extra session but she stopped them all to finish with 31 saves. While her stats Friday were not as gaudy as they were in the shutouts she had in her two previous starts, Snikeris showed an important attribute: resiliency. After allowing a quick pair of goals early on many freshmen might have folded.

"She fought through it and was phenomenal," Witt said. "In the third period and overtime she made some huge saves and gave us an opportunity to battle back."

Snikeris also got some help from her teammates while Yale was killing a penalty with three minutes left in overtime. Junior forward Kristen Stupay executed a nice block on a Big Green shot at the point, then spun around to backhand the puck out of the zone. Murphy blocked a hard shot by forward Sarah Parsons, Resor's teammate from Team USA at the 2006 Olympics, to help finish off the penalty kill.

With a point, Yale is now tied for sixth in the ECAC Hockey standings with two teams, Colgate and Cornell. The Bulldogs visit first-place Harvard Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

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