March 4, 2006

No. 2 St. Lawrence Beats Yale 6-2 to Win Quarterfinal Series

March 4, 2006

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CANTON, N.Y. - For the second time in as many games, No. 2 St. Lawrence broke open a 3-2 game in the third period, topping Yale 6-2 to win the teams' ECACHL Quarterfinal series two games to none Saturday afteronoon at Appleton Arena. Two of the Saints' goals were empty-netters, as Yale senior goaltender Sarah Love made 53 saves in the last game of her record-setting career.

Yale was a heavy underdog in the series but managed to put a scare into the Saints in both games. St. Lawrence entered the weekend second in the NCAA in scoring offense (4.06 goals per game), scoring defense (1.18 goals per game), power-play percentage (.231), penalty-killing percentage (.904), scoring margin (2.88) and winning percentage (.879). But in both games of the series the Bulldogs hung with the Saints until a late barrage determined the outcome.

"We gave everything we had," head coach Hilary Witt said. "I can't be more proud of the effort we gave."

In game one the Bulldogs (11-15-5, 8-8-4 ECACHL) took an early 1-0 lead but were down 3-1 by the end of the first and went on to lose 6-3. In game two St. Lawrence (30-3-2, 16-2-2 ECACHL) jumped in front but the Bulldogs entered the first intermission with the score tied.

Love, who was pulled from yesterday's game after allowing two goals early, made her first save of this game three minutes in by smothering a Crystal Connors backhand. Right after that she stopped an Abbie Bullard slap shot.

"I knew she would be fine," Witt said of Love. "We just tried to tell her to have fun. She played great."

The Bulldogs allowed two power-play goals in game one, and had another goal scored right after a penalty expired. The same troubles beset them early in this game, as Yale's first penalty led to St. Lawrence taking the lead. Alison Domenico stuck in a rebound at 5:19 for the 1-0 advantage.

The Saints controlled play, keeping the puck in the Yale zone for the majority of the time, until Crysti Howser drew a tripping penalty 5:31 in when she got the puck in the slot. While the Bulldogs did not score on the power play, they did have a flurry of activity in front of the SLU net and were able to generate some offensive momentum.

Yale's work finally paid off at 8:44 when Sheila Zingler wristed one past Saints netminder Jessica Moffat to tie the score at one.

St. Lawrence went on the power play again with five minutes remaining in the first period, but Love denied Carson Duggan in the slot after a perfect feed off the boards from Annie Guay. Love then gloved a wrister from Kate Michael, and Danielle Kozlowski blocked another shot as Yale executed its first successful penalty kill of the game.

The Saints picked up the offensive pace as the period drew to a close, but Love stopped a Michael slap shot and a chance from right in front of the net for Connors after a turnover in the final two minutes. She finished the period with 15 saves.

The Bulldogs killed off another penalty six minutes into the second, and right after that Deena Caplette stole the puck in the St. Lawrence end and fed Howser for a shot that Moffat was just able to glove. That set up a faceoff to Moffat's right that Howser won back to Carry Resor. Resor sent one through traffic and into the net at 7:50 to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.

That lit a fire under the Saints offense, as they began peppering Love with shots. She stood tall on one flurry midway through the period, and shortly after that the Bulldogs faced another penalty-killing situation.

Love stopped Emilie Berlinguette from point-blank range at the start of the Saints power play, then sprawled out to deny Michael before Caplette was able to clear the puck. A great job of forechecking by Zingler killed off some more valuable seconds, and Love sticked aside a shot by Kerri Wallace as the penalty came to an end.

Moffat denied a Caplette backhander off a pass from Howser after that, and the Saints continued their offensive assault. A St. Lawrence rush with under three minutes to play forced another Yale penalty, and this one ended in the game-tying goal. Berlinguette snuck one past Love at 17:50 to tie the score.

The real heartbreaker came at even strength. With two fewer skaters than the Saints in the lineup throughout the series, the Bulldogs were hanging on at the end of the period until 9 seconds remained. Love had 21 saves for the period, but Berlinguette tipped one past her high for a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission.

A minute into the third Love made another fantastic play, coming out to poke the puck away from Duggan on a breakaway, but the Saints offense remained relentless. Five minutes in, with most of that time spent in the Yale zone, Abbie Bullard put St. Lawrence up by two goals.

The Bulldogs finally put a shot on net when Sarah Tittman sent one in, and right after that Moffat denied Kozlowski on the doorstep. That play forced the Saints into an obstruction-hooking call. On the power play, Maggie Westfal sailed one just high and Moffat stopped a Howser backhand.

A penalty on the Bulldogs with eight minutes left actually gave Yale a golden opportunity, as Caplette stole the puck and got a short-handed shot on net that Moffat could not control. Caplette slid the rebound wide. The Saints then went back on the attack, but a nice clear by Westfal ended the power play.

Love then made the type of spectacular save that she has been known for throughout her career, somehow gloving a Casey Hughes shot from just outside the crease while on her back.

"She was great," Witt said. "What a game to end your career on. She was unbelievable."

With 3:37 to play Yale called timeout but could not stop St. Lawrence's momentum. The Bulldogs pulled Love for an extra attacker with 1:45 to play, but just as she was getting off the ice Hughes controlled the puck in the neutral zone and sent in the first empty-net tally. With five seconds remaining, Connors added another empty-netter for the 6-2 final. Moffat finished with 19 saves.

St. Lawrence, the No. 1 seed, now hosts the ECACHL semifinals and championship next weekend. The Saints will play the lowest remaining seed. The five goals that Yale scored as the No. 8 seed in two games equaled the total that previous No. 8 seeds had scored in the previous eight games combined.

The game also marked the end of Love's remarkable Yale career. She finishes as Yale's career leader in save percentage (.914) and goals-against average (2.68), and is second to All-American Laurie Belliveau in total saves (3,088).

Her numbers for this season included the third-best save percentage (.919) and goals-against average (2.44) in school history.

Love and her classmates, Caplette and Lisa Jacque, leave Yale with more wins (48) than any class in school history, one more than the team had in the 10 seasons prior to their arrival combined.

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