December 7, 2007

Bulldogs Win at Providence for First Time, 2-1

Dec. 6, 2007

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Yale's third line has not had much of a chance at glory so far this season. The trio of junior Danielle Kozlowski, sophomore Caroline Murphy and junior Kristen Stupay has been focused mainly on underappreciated tasks such as tenacious forechecking and shot blocking. But on Thursday night at Providence, when the Bulldogs needed a spark early in the second period, that trio collaborated on the game-tying goal. Junior defenseman Helen Resor put the Bulldogs ahead later in the period, and Yale left the rest up to senior goalkeeper Shivon Zilis. She made 34 saves to finish off the Bulldogs' first win over the Friars at Schneider Arena.

The Friars dominated the first period on the shot chart, 10-2, but Zilis kept them from extending that dramatic edge to the scoreboard. The lone penalty of the period came against Yale four minutes in, and Zilis started the penalty kill by smothering a blast from the point by defenseman Amber Yung. One of the few rebounds Zilis left in the period came shortly after that, but Stupay swooped in to grab that one in the slot and keep the Bulldogs out of further danger.

Yale (4-5-2, 3-4-1 ECAC) was unable to generate offensive momentum, with several icing calls disrupting any cohesion the Bulldogs had and numerous long television timeouts depriving the game of any flow. Junior forward Sarah Tittman had the best chance of the period, as junior forward Crysti Howser led her down the left side with a nice pass and Tittman whistled a shot just wide of the net with six minutes left in the period.

Providence's barrage of shots finally paid off thanks in part to an opportune bounce. Defenseman Kathleen Smith sent the puck into the slot from the left circle, and it hit off a Yale defender and went right to forward Kelli Doolan as she charged toward the net. She buried it at the 18:55 mark to make the score 1-0 Providence.

Providence (6-7-2, 4-2-1 Hockey East) nearly extended the lead 30 seconds into the second, but forward Sarah Feldman's spinning backhander from right in front of the net went just wide. The Bulldogs then began swinging momentum in their favor. They got their first power play of the night when Howser took advantage of a Friar turnover to draw a checking call. Yale did not score on the power play, but just two minutes after it ended the Bulldogs' third line struck.

Kozlowski got the play started by winning a faceoff in the Yale zone and sending the puck down toward the other end of the ice. Murphy hustled after it as it crossed over into Providence's zone. She took a Friar defender out of the play with her, leaving the puck behind for a wide-open Stupay in the left circle. Stupay beat Friar goalie Danielle Ciarletta high on her stick side at the 5:22 mark to tie the score at one.

"That was all effort right there," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "Caroline Murphy hustled down there. Stups was in a good spot and wasn't afraid to shoot. It was a good goal."

It was the first goal of the year by any member of that line, though the trio's contributions in other aspects of the game have not gone unnoticed.

"Those three have been working hard," Witt said. "They've found some chemistry now that they've been playing together for a while. For them, it's all work ethic. It was nice to see Stupay get rewarded by getting into the scoring column."

The Bulldogs were further buoyed by Zilis' continued steady presence in net. A minute after the Yale goal, the Friars went on the power play and put a shot on net right off the faceoff in the Yale zone. Zilis stopped that one, then covered up the rebound to keep the game tied.

Yale struck again a minute after the penalty expired. Howser shot one from just to Ciarletta's left, but it was blocked. She stayed with the play, batting the loose puck in the air over to the other side of the crease. There, Resor and junior forward Maggie Westfal were both camped out, and Resor knocked the puck in.

The celebration was somewhat muted as the Friars immediately claimed there had been a high sticking violation on the play. Because the game was being televised, the officials went over to the monitor at rinkside and watched the play again before officially signaling that the goal was good.

"It was just a loose puck in front of the net," Witt said. "We worked hard to get it. We've been talking about that all week, and it worked out to our benefit."

The Friars got their best chance to get back in the game when the period drew to a close. A pair of penalties on the Bulldogs gave Providence a 5-on-3 for 50 seconds -- 20 seconds at the end of the second and 30 seconds at the start of the third. Adding to the drama was the fact that the penalty clock at Schneider did not start counting down immediately at the start of the third, creating confusion for players and fans alike.

The Bulldogs got their players out of the box at the right time, and after a big pair of saves from Zilis Murphy finished the penalty kill by blocking a pass and clearing the puck to the other end of the ice.

The Friars blocked a pair of Yale shots from the blue line a minute later, and after the second one forward Rachel Crissy tracked down the loose puck at center ice and headed in on Zilis. Her shot from the point was turned away, and Zilis continued to come up big as the game wound down. In the midst of another penalty kill with 12 minutes left she denied a blast from the point by Yung, then covered up the rebound. Later she got a piece of a slap shot from defenseman Erin Normore with her pad to send it wide of the net.

The Bulldogs did not get many shots -- the final tally was 35-15 in favor of Providence -- but they did have some golden chances. Sophomore forward Denise Soesilo took advantage of a turnover in the Providence zone with less than four minutes to play to send a wrister that went just wide.

With 2:16 to play the Bulldogs sent a shot on net from the neutral zone but were whistled for being offside, and the Friars called timeout before the faceoff. Providence took the puck down and got off a shot that Zilis saved, and with the faceoff in Yale's end the Friars pulled Ciarletta.

That made the final 1:57 particularly hectic, including a high glove save by Zilis on a shot by defenseman Brittany Simpson. Yale got control of the puck twice but could do no more than ice it, keeping the Friars in the Yale zone throughout the waning moments. Kozlowski came up with a key block of a Simpson shot with a minute to play, and Zilis capped her busy night with a kick save on forward Jean O'Neill. Zilis raised her arms in triumph as the final seconds ticked off after a faceoff just outside the Yale zone.

Zilis has moved up to third in the country in save percentage (.946) and established herself as a goalie who gives her team a chance to win night in and night out. Still, Witt has a decision to make for each game because freshman Jackee Snikeris is another viable option in net.

"Shivon was outstanding," Witt said. "Providence is very good about getting the puck to the net. Shivon is really quick, so that's why we went with her. She made that decision look good."

Yale had been 0-12 against the Friars at Schneider.

The Bulldogs face a quick turnaround for their next game, as they host Brown on Sunday at Ingalls Rink. The game is part of Yale's Toys for Tots weekend, so fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the game. Those who do receive two free general admission tickets.

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

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