February 14, 2009

Fitting Tribute: Bulldogs Blank Union, 4-0, to Conclude Pink at the Rink Weekend

Feb. 14, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale has been paying tribute to junior forward Mandi Schwartz in many different ways ever since she was first diagnosed with leukemia last December. The Bulldogs have been wearing special bracelets, keeping her jersey on display in the locker room, saving a spot for her in the pregame lineup and more. On Saturday, with ECAC Hockey's "Pink at the Rink" cancer fundraiser as the backdrop, they added another item to the list: a 4-0 win over Union. All told, 10 different players had at least one point and sophomore goaltender Jackee Snikeris made 17 saves.

"Mandi has been in our thoughts and our prayers every day since she first got diagnosed," said senior forward Sarah Tittman, Yale's captain. "We play every game for her. She plays because she loves the game, and I was proud of the fact that we played really hard and really well as a team today."

It was the type of team effort that Schwartz can be proud of inspiring as she undergoes treatment back home in Saskatchewan.

"A lot of people got a lot of quality shots," Tittman said. "It was a team effort, and we brought it all game long."

For nearly half the game, it seemed as if Yale (10-15-1, 6-12-1 ECAC Hockey) was going to be stymied by Union goaltender Lundy Day despite a significant shot advantage. Tittman noted that the team's goal was to get 45 shots, and they wound up coming very close (42). Day's work started a minute in, when she reacted quickly to close up the five-hole on a backhand attempt from the slot by senior forward Crysti Howser after a pass from behind the net. Two minutes later Day denied a pair of golden chances, one by junior forward Caroline Murphy and one by freshman forward Aleca Hughes.

The first Union penalty of the game gave Yale a chance to apply even further pressure to Day, but she was up to the challenge and stopped an attempt from in front by senior forward Kristen Stupay that was set up by passes from freshman defenseman Heather Grant and sophomore defenseman Samantha MacLean. Day also denied another Hughes shot and gloved senior forward Danielle Kozlowski's wrister as time expired on the Bulldog power play.

The Bulldogs were whistled twice in the final six minutes of the first period but killed off both penalties, and even had a chance at a short-handed goal from junior forward Berit Johnson that Day sticked aside. Yale ended the period with a 15-5 shot advantage.

Snikeris made one of her biggest saves two minutes into the second, as speedy Dutchwomen forward Emilie Arsenault got behind the Yale defense for a shot but Snikeris got her pad on it to send it wide.

Six minutes after that the Bulldogs finally got one past Day. Howser started the play by putting a shot on net that Day saved. Junior defenseman Alyssa Clarke chased down the loose puck and put it back in front, where Johnson kept it alive while being tied up by the defense. Clarke got back in the play by grabbing the puck at the edge of the right circle and knocking it past Day at 7:54.

The Bulldogs then extended the lead three minutes later. Senior defenseman Carry Resor started Yale's second goal in motion by retrieving a Union clear in the Yale end and quickly getting the puck ahead to sophomore forward Bray Ketchum just outside of the Union zone. Ketchum carried the puck in and tried a wrister that Day saved, but Ketchum chased down the rebound in the left corner and slid it along the boards to Hughes. Hughes then got the puck into the crease, and Day's attempt at poking the puck away went awry as she sent it right to Ketchum charging through the slot. Ketchum backhanded one over Day's left shoulder for a 2-0 lead.

Yale extended the lead quickly in the third period. Howser was all alone in the left circle and Day was out of position after a Union player unintentionally deflected a shot by senior defenseman Helen Resor, set up by Kozlowski, right to Howser at the 49-second mark. It was Howser's team-leading 13th goal of the year.

Union (2-27-3, 0-19-1 ECAC Hockey) nearly responded immediately, as Arsenault once again got behind the defense off the faceoff. Snikeris made a big kick save to keep Union off the scoreboard. She also denied forward Adelle Calahan three minutes later during a 2-on-1.

A penalty did little to deter the Bulldog offense, as the Yale penalty-killing unit went on the attack thanks to Howser controlling the puck in the Union zone. Day had to make a nice save on Hughes to avoid the short-handed goal.

Seven minutes into the third, after Snikeris had made a stick save on a backhander in front by forward Lauren Cromartie, the Bulldogs put the game out of reach. Junior forward Caroline Murphy worked the puck from behind the net out to sophomore defenseman Samantha MacLean in the left circle. MacLean's shot was deflected in front by Ketchum and went in off a Union player to make it 4-0 Yale.

A turnover right in front of the Yale net gave Union its best scoring chance of the game with nine minutes to play, but forward Molly Kate Devin's attempt hit the left post and caromed harmlessly into the left corner. After that, the last threat to Snikeris' shutout was another shot by Arsenault - her seventh of the game - that Snikeris sticked away with a minute to play.

Snikeris now has seven career shutouts, tying her for fourth all-time at Yale despite being just 28 games into her career. She finished the weekend with 36 saves on 37 shots (.972).

"We have so much confidence in Snik back there," said Tittman. "I don't think I've ever played with a goalie as good as she is when she's on. Our defense has the confidence to step up a little more knowing she's behind them, and that helps us generate a lot of offense."

Shortly after the game ended, the Bulldogs did get some bad, if not unexpected, news about their playoff chances. Eighth-place Cornell's 3-3 overtime tie against Dartmouth put the Big Red six points ahead of ninth-place Yale for the eighth and final ECAC Hockey playoff spot. Because the Big Red has an edge on Yale in the tiebreaker, even if the Bulldogs win all three games left they cannot earn a spot in the playoffs.

But there is still plenty at stake as Yale travels to Brown Tuesday. If the Bulldogs win their final three games they will finish with 13 wins, which would be third-most for a single season in Yale history. The senior class also needs just two more wins to leave with the third-most wins for a class in school history.

"I thought we played really well this weekend," Tittman said. "When you give it 100 percent effort, there's nothing else you can do."

The pink sticks Yale used for ECAC Hockey's Pink at the Rink cancer fundraiser weekend are now available for auction at www.ecachockeycoachesvscancer.com. Information on how you can help Mandi Schwartz, including buying a No. 17 t-shirt, is available here.

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

Video by David Dikranian

Video by Neil Horowitz '09, Yale Sports Publicity