Feb. 29, 2008
CANTON, N.Y. - For nearly 70 minutes on Friday afternoon at Appleton Arena, Yale battled the No. 6 team in the country to a standstill in game one of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals. Senior goalkeeper Shivon Zilis was the main reason why, as she made 55 saves -- including one on a penalty shot with 1:36 left in regulation. But the game turned in St. Lawrence's favor on a power play, as Marianna Locke knocked in the game-winner at 8:39 of overtime for a 2-1 Saints win.
"Shivon was fantastic," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "It's unfortunate to lose a game that way."
The Bulldogs entered the game having never beaten the Saints (0-30-1), and St. Lawrence's potent offense had racked up 18 goals in two games last weekend. For the season, the Saints were second in the country in goals per game (4.15) and had the fourth-ranked power play in the country (24 percent). But Zilis was on her game from the start.
Yale (11-13-6, 8-10-4 ECAC Hockey, 7th) had a pair of near-misses in the game's first minute, as sophomore forward Mandi Schwartz' attempt to knock in a centering pass from sophomore forward Caroline Murphy was blocked and a slap shot from the point by freshman defenseman Samantha MacLean that took a tricky bounce was stopped by Saints goalie Meaghan Guckian, as was junior forward Sarah Tittman's attempt to knock in the rebound.
St. Lawrence (26-8-1, 18-3-1 ECAC Hockey, 2nd) took the first penalty of the game but Yale was unable to take advantage of it. St. Lawrence forward Sabrina Harbec generated a short-handed chance off a Yale turnover, sending a long shot on goal that Zilis gloved. The Saints nearly had a breakaway as they got done with the penalty kill, but sophomore defenseman Alyssa Clarke hustled back into position and was able to knock the puck away from forward Carson Duggan.
St. Lawrence's offense started gaining traction after that. Forward Karell Emard grabbed a loose puck behind the Yale net and turned it into a wraparound chance that Zilis got her stick on. Shortly after that forward Chelsea Grills gave Harbec a perfect centering pass from the left wing but Zilis stopped the shot and covered the loose puck.
The Saints' power play got its first chance to operate after a Yale penalty at the 10:38 mark. Zilis somehow spotted and gloved a hard slap shot from the left circle by Harbec with plenty of traffic in front of the net. After junior forward Danielle Kozlowski cleared the puck, the Saints set up again on offense and gave defenseman Annie Guay a chance at an open one-timer from high in the slot. The hard shot hit Zilis right in the chest, where she cradled it to deny a rebound attempt.
Another penalty on Yale gave St. Lawrence nearly a minute of 5-on-3, but junior forward Crysti Howser fought off a group of Saints to clear the puck right at the start of that kill and Kozlowski blocked a shot right at the end.
St. Lawrence kept the pressure on as the first period drew to a close, but Zilis snared a slap shot from low in the right circle by forward Tara Akstull with 40 seconds left for her 16th save of the frame.
Yale managed to slow down the St. Lawrence offense in the second period, limiting the Saints to eight shots on goal, but the Bulldogs struggled to get any offense going. Guckian deflected a wrister from Tittman into the netting behind the goal on Yale's first power play, and the second Bulldog power play of the period was quickly negated by a Yale penalty. The Bulldogs could only put three shots on net against Guckian in the frame.
The Bulldogs took a penalty 30 seconds into the third period, but Zilis got enough of a blast from Guay with her left leg to keep the Saints off the scoreboard. Zilis also denied Emard by gloving her backhander from low in the left circle with the teams back at even strength.
After junior forward Maggie Westfal drew a tripping call on the Saints the Bulldogs took the lead. First, Zilis had to make another save with her left leg on a short-handed chance by Grills. Yale quickly got the puck down the ice after that one, and Schwartz lifted the first goal of the game into the back of the net behind Guckian off assists by Murphy and Howser at the 7:48 mark.
"It all started with Shivon," Witt said. "She made the save on the breakaway, then we transitioned well. It was a nice pass and a beautiful goal."
The Yale lead was short-lived, as Akstull beat Zilis on her glove side with a slap shot 90 seconds later off assists by defenseman Michelle Zimmerman and Duggan.
Guckian turned aside a golden chance for Yale to go back on top with nine minutes left in the game, smothering freshman forward Bray Ketchum's attempt to chip in a crossing pass from Tittman.
Zilis covered Grills' attempt to whack in a rebound with 2:31 left in regulation, but eight seconds later the Bulldogs were called for a penalty. That set up one of the game's more dramatic moments, as Harbec was awarded a penalty shot with 1:36 to play when a Yale player covered the rebound of a St. Lawrence shot in the crease with Zilis down on the ice.
The Patty Kazmaier Award candidate took the puck at center ice and headed towards Zilis before moving ever so slightly to the right. When Harbec tried to reverse directions and stick the puck in low, Zilis got her right leg out to deny the attempt and keep Yale in the game.
"Shivon stayed right with her," Witt said. "Harbec changed speeds but Shivon stayed composed. She's really quick, so it's tough to deke on her."
The Bulldogs still had to kill off the rest of the St. Lawrence power play to finish regulation, and they did just that for their fifth successful penalty kill.
"Our kids did a good job of staying tight," Witt said. "They took away the passing lanes and blocked shots."
Zilis wound up with 22 saves in the third period alone, almost single-handedly sending the game to overtime.
Howser wristed a shot just wide five minutes into OT, and the game turned on a body-checking penalty against the Bulldogs three minutes later. Locke banged home the rebound of a shot by forward Alison Domenico to touch off a wild celebration for the Saints.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity