Feb. 17, 2009
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Great goaltending was to be expected Tuesday night at Brown's Meehan Auditorium. At one end of the ice was Brown senior Nicole Stock, the school's all-time leader in saves. In net for Yale was sophomore Jackee Snikeris, who had allowed only two goals in her last 185:36 -- a minuscule 0.64 goals-against average. Neither goalie disappointed. The Bulldogs scored 13 minutes in, getting a tally from senior forward Maggie Westfal, but after that goals were hard to come by. Snikeris made that slim lead stand up until junior forward Caroline Murphy sealed the win with an empty-netter with 33 seconds left.
Snikeris finished with 21 saves to post her second shutout in a row and third in her last six starts. She is already fourth on Yale's career shutout list, only 29 games into her career, as Tuesday's effort was her eighth.
"Snik made a lot of big saves today," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "Stock has been unbelievable for them, so it was nice to get that goal early."
Yale (11-15-1, 7-12-1 ECAC Hockey) spent most of the first seven minutes of the game in the Brown zone, forcing numerous turnovers on Bears breakout attempts. The Bears were finally able to get some offensive momentum when Yale was whistled for two penalties in a span of just over two minutes. During the first penalty kill Snikeris sticked aside a slap shot from defenseman Erica Kromm. Freshman forward Aleca Hughes finished off the kill by intercepting a clearing pass from the Brown zone, putting a shot on goal that Stock saved, then pressuring Stock into freezing the puck instead of playing it to a teammate. For good measure, Hughes also just missed jamming in a loose puck right in front of the goal shortly after the face-off.
Yale also killed off the second penalty, ending what was effectively four straight minutes on the power play for Brown (6-20-1, 5-15-0 ECAC Hockey). The Bulldogs then were able to go back on the attack and generate the first goal of the game. Senior defenseman Helen Resor lined a hard slap shot towards the net from high in the slot. Westfal was crashing the left post when the puck hit her hand. Westfal ignored the pain momentarily as the puck fell at her feet and she slid it past Stock at 13:47.
"We got traffic in front, Helen ripped it and Maggie finished it up," said Witt. "It was a good play all around."
Snikeris made a big save a minute into the second period, squaring up on a wide-open shot from forward Sasha Van Muyen to block it with her body. Two minutes later, with Yale killing off another penalty, Snikeris denied a redirection attempt from forward Andrea Hunter by getting her right leg back in time to smother the shot.
The Bulldogs' best chance of the second period came six minutes in when senior forward Danielle Kozlowski skated towards the goal in the slot and dropped a pass to freshman forward Becky Mantell, but Stock was able to glove Mantell's shot.
Ten minutes into the second Brown forward Nicole Brown had a golden opportunity, picking up a pass in transition a stride behind the Yale defense and skating in on Snikeris. But senior defenseman Carry Resor stayed with the play and forced Brown into trying a backhanded shot that Snikeris stopped, and Snikeris also denied the rebound attempt.
Yale missed out on a chance to extend its lead with a pair of power plays late in the second, but the Bulldogs did generate several quality chances on the second one. Snikeris' biggest stop of the third period came during a Brown 2-on-1 three minutes into the period. She ranged far out of the net to challenge forward Erin Connors, stuffing her shot with her pads.
Murphy put the game out of reach by chasing down a puck in the Brown zone with Stock pulled in the final minutes after making 33 saves. She fought off a Brown defender to put the puck in the empty net with 33 seconds remaining.
After that goal, the last task for the Bulldogs was to help Snikeris finish off the shutout. Junior defenseman Alyssa Clarke took care of that by tying the puck up along the boards behind the Yale net as the game's final seconds ticked away.
The Bulldogs have only shut out Brown twice since 1988 (four times in school history), and Snikeris has accounted for both of them. She is now eighth in the country in goals-against average (1.70) and ninth in save percentage (.933).
The win also completes an unprecedented run of success over one of Yale's rivals for the Class of 2009. The seniors leave with a 5-2-1 record against Brown -- including a 4-0 record at Meehan -- making them the first class in Yale history with a winning record against the Bears. Yale had been 3-52-1 in the series prior to their arrival.
"That class can be really proud of themselves," Witt said. "They've done a great job against Brown, especially here in this building."
Yale concludes the season with games against Quinnipiac (Friday, 7:00 p.m.) and Princeton (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.) this weekend at Ingalls Rink.