November 29, 2008

UConn Edges Yale 3-2 for Nutmeg Classic Championship

Nov. 29, 2008

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STORRS, Conn. - UConn claimed its third Nutmeg Classic championship at Yale's expense Saturday night at Freitas Ice Forum, besting the Bulldogs 3-2. This marked the third time that the Huskies have beaten the Bulldogs by a goal in the tournament title game. Senior forward Crysti Howser scored both of Yale's goals and sophomore goalkeeper Jackee Snikeris, who stopped 21 shots, won the Laurie Belliveau Award as the top goalkeeper at the tournament.

UConn (9-6-2, 3-4 Hockey East) controlled play for much of the early going, but the Bulldogs were actually the first team to score. Howser stuffed in the rebound of junior forward Caroline Murphy's shot at 7:31, but the Yale lead was short-lived. A penalty on the Bulldogs 16 seconds after the goal gave UConn the chance to even the game on the power play, as Rebecca Hewett's shot from the point was deflected into the net behind Snikeris by Nicole Tritter.

Another Yale penalty 31 seconds after the UConn goal led to the Huskies taking the lead. Jennifer Chaisson's deflection of a slap shot on the power play at 10:50 made it 2-1.

Yale (4-6-0, 2-4-0 ECAC Hockey) missed out on a golden opportunity to tie the game early in the second when the Huskies were hit with back-to-back penalties. Yale had four minutes of power play separated only by eight seconds, but the Bulldogs did not score. Howser tipped a pass from freshman forward Aleca Hughes into the netting behind the goal, and the Huskies ended the long stretch of penalty killing with a short-handed chance for Monique Weber that Snikeris stopped.

Shortly after that Snikeris went for a puck in the crease that she could not get to; the Huskies were able to take advantage of the situation with a goal from Michelle Binning at 9:24 that made it 3-1. Weber nearly made it 4-1 when she got a breakaway four minutes later, but Snikeris made a pad save to keep her team within reach.

The Bulldogs needed a break, but they did not get one on one of their best chances of the night. Howser deflected a pass from behind the goal on net, and it fluttered in the air behind UConn goalie Brittany Wilson just in front of the goal line. Wilson was able to get her stick on it in time to knock the puck away.

A penalty on UConn with 1:57 left in the second period led to several quality scoring chances for Yale. Wilson got a piece of a wrister from Howser with her blocker, then later made a save on a slap shot from sophomore forward Bray Ketchum off a pass from senior defenseman Helen Resor. Senior forward Maggie Westfal sent a wrist shot high, and Wilson made a stick save on a hard shot from freshman defenseman Heather Grant off a pass from junior forward Mandi Schwartz. Snikeris had to make a stop on a short-handed try by Binning as the second period came to a close.

"I think we got into more of a rhythm as the game wore on," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "We attempted more shots than they did, but they got more through to the net [as shots on goal]. That's a credit to their kids getting in front of shots and blocking them."

Yale got another chance to creep closer a minute into the third when Murphy drew a high-sticking call, but the Bulldogs were unable to capitalize on the power play. They made the final minutes interesting when senior forward Danielle Kozlowski picked the puck out from a pile of players in front of the goal with Wilson out of position and passed it to a wide-open Howser, who deposited her second goal of the game with 2:42 to play. Murphy, who generated the initial rush at the net, picked up an assist.

"There were some scrums in front of the net that went their way, and some scrums in front that didn't go our way," said Witt. "But Howser was able to get in position to put a couple rebounds away."

The Bulldogs pulled Snikeris with just over a minute to play and had three faceoffs in the UConn zone, but could not get the equalizer. Resor sent one slap shot just wide and had another pair blocked. The Huskies tied the puck up along the boards to run out the clock for the win.

Snikeris stopped 38 of 41 shots in two games to earn the Belliveau Award, which is named after Yale's All-American goaltender from the Class of 1998. UConn's Tritter was named most valuable player.

Yale hosts Brown Thursday at 7:00 in its final game before Winter break.

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

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