Nov. 28, 2008
STORRS, Conn. - For the fourth time in the tournament's five-year history, Yale will be playing for the Nutmeg Classic Championship. The Bulldogs advanced to the title game with a 2-0 blanking of Quinnipiac Friday night at UConn's Freitas Ice Forum. Sophomore goalie Jackee Snikeris made 17 saves for the shutout, and junior defenseman Alyssa Clarke's first-period goal proved to be the game-winner. Senior forward Crysti Howser added an insurance goal in the third. Yale will play UConn for the championship Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
Offense was tough to come by for both teams, and Yale's 28-17 edge in shots on goal for the game would have been even bigger had the Quinnipiac defense not blocked 16 shots. The Bulldogs did not get a shot on goal for the first eight minutes of the game.
Junior forward Mandi Schwartz broke the drought by skating the puck up from the Yale end and getting off a slap shot from inside the blue line that Bobcats goalie Tia Wishart gloved. Yale continued to build offensive momentum a minute later when sophomore forward Bray Ketchum generated a tripping call on Quinnipiac. On the power play, Howser skated the puck up from low in the right circle and tried a wrist shot from between the circles that Wishart snagged.
Another Yale power play had just ended when the Bulldogs broke on top. As the Quinnipiac player getting out of the penalty box was bearing down on her from behind, Clarke teed up a slap shot from the left point that sailed high into the back of the net behind Wishart at the 13:51 mark. Freshman forward Aleca Hughes picked up an assist on the play.
"Alyssa just threw it at the net, and sometimes good things happen when you do that," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt.
Yale (4-5-0, 2-4-0 ECAC Hockey) kept the offensive pressure on in the second period, aided by three power play opportunities, and outshot the Bobcats 14-7 for the frame. Senior defenseman Helen Resor had a pair of opportunities on the first power play, skating around the Quinnipiac defense for a shot that Wishart stopped and then firing a slap shot near the end of the advantage that Wishart covered.
Wishart also made a nice stop on another Resor power-play shot off a Clarke feed with four minutes to play in the second. The Bulldogs kept the pressure on even as the power play ended, and forechecking by senior forward Sarah Tittman and senior forward Kristen Stupay led to a shot for freshman forward Becky Mantell that Wishart covered. The score remained 1-0 after two periods.
It was the forechecking of Stupay and Tittman that set up Howser's insurance goal. Those two kept the Bobcats from getting the puck out of their own zone, and senior defenseman Carry Resor was eventually able to control the puck and send it on net from the blue line. Her cousin Helen got a piece of it and Wishart could not control the puck. It slid along the ice behind her, heading slowly towards the goal line with a pile of players in front unable to see it because Wishart was blocking them. Howser swooped in unmarked from the right circle and pushed the puck in for her team-high eighth goal of the year at 8:25.
"It all started with Carry getting the puck through," said Witt. "Quinnipiac was very good at blocking shots. Carry made a smart play to put the puck on net."
The offensive contributions from the Yale defense, including a goal and two assists, come at a time when the Bulldogs are playing with just four of the defensemen they started the season with healthy. Carry Resor has been asked to move back from forward to help out, while players such as Clarke, Helen Resor, freshman Heather Grant and sophomore Samantha MacLean see even more ice time than usual.
"We're asking more out of all of our kids," Witt said. "We asked Carry to move back to defense, and she's done a great job."
Howser's goal was more than enough for Snikeris, who made the biggest of her 17 saves when a turnover with 4:30 left in the game gave the Bobcats an open shot from right in front. Snikeris has allowed just one goal in her last 123:57 in net.
"She made some big saves and controlled the game well," Witt said of Snikeris. "She limited the number of rebounds and made smart decisions about freezing the puck."
The Bulldogs were able to play puck control for most of the remainder of the period to finish off the win and clinch another shot at the championship, which they won two years ago.
Quinnipiac (2-14-1, 1-3-1 ECAC Hockey) will play Wayne State in the consolation game at 4:00 p.m.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity