Resilient Bulldogs Claim Nutmeg Classic Title With 7-3 Win Over Quinnipiac

Dec. 31, 2006

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale claimed the Nutmeg Classic with a 7-3 win over Quinnipiac Sunday afternoon at Ingalls Rink, bouncing back after letting an early three-goal lead slip away. The Bulldogs, who beat No. 8/9 UConn 3-0 on Friday in the first game of the tournament, got two-point efforts from six different players for the win on Sunday. This marks the first time Yale has won the three-year old tournament that features its in-state rivals.

"It means a lot to us as a program -- just to see what it's like to play in a championship-type game and come away with it," head coach Hilary Witt said. "This tournament means a lot to us, just as it does to Quinnipiac and UConn. It's important."

UConn won the inaugural title and Quinnipiac claimed it last year. The Bobcats beat the Huskies 2-1 on Saturday, meaning both teams were playing for the championship in Sunday's game.

The first period was divided into two very different halves. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, but the Bobcats responded with three goals of their own to tie it up.

Senior forward Jenna Spring started the scoring spree with Yale on a power play. Freshman defenseman Alyssa Clarke passed the puck to sophomore defenseman Helen Resor at the right point, and Resor slid it across the ice to Spring. Spring's shot eluded Bobcat goalie Laura Brennan at the 5:59 mark to make it 1-0 Yale.

Senior forward Kristin Savard extended the lead to two goals two and a half minutes later. She took a chip from freshman forward Mandi Schwartz, cut through the slot and wristed one past Brennan's stick. Freshman defenseman Berit Johnson also picked up an assist on the play.

Ninety-two seconds later, senior forward Sheila Zingler sent the puck from behind the net to sophomore forward Crysti Howser on the doorstep. Howser controlled the puck and put it in the net despite being knocked off balance. Sophomore defenseman Carry Resor assisted on the play.

That three-goal surge in a span of less than four minutes prompted a Bobcat timeout that shifted the game's momentum. Quinnipiac's aggressive forechecking led to most of the remainder of the period being played in the Yale zone, and that eventually paid dividends for the Bobcats. Yale junior goaltender Shivon Zilis froze a dangerous puck in the crease by getting her left leg along the ice all the way out to the post with a group of Bobcats poking away at the puck.

Quinnipiac got its first goal off a two-on-one, as Kallie Flor opted to shoot instead of pass and wristed one past Zilis at 16:05. A minute later Yale was forced into a hooking penalty to prevent an odd-man rush for the Bobcats, and that power play resulted in a goal by Karrah Stephen assisted by Flor and Trudy Reyns.

Yale had a chance to take advantage of a line change by Quinnipiac with under two minutes to play, but the Bobcats were able to knock the puck away from Zingler and then force Yale into another penalty. Twenty-three seconds into the power play Janine Duffy deflected the puck in to tie the score at three.

"I thought that Quinnipiac took it to us for most of the period, even when we were up 3-0," Witt said. "I thought they played really hard, and I don't think we played as hard as we should have. I thought we picked it up in the second period."

The Bulldogs settled down at intermission and killed off the remainder of a penalty that started at the end of the second, then another one that was called just after that one expired. Yale got a power play of its own 1:23 in when Duffy checked Zingler.

The Bulldogs didn't get a goal out of that power play, but did shift the play down to QU's end of the ice. There, sophomore forward Danielle Kozlowski got the puck to senior forward Christina Sharun and she put it on net. Sophomore forward Sarah Tittman was there to shovel the rebound in at 4:13 to give Yale the lead back, 4-3. It was Tittman's first point of the year.

"She just hasn't had any luck," Witt said of Tittman, who had 12 points last season. "Finally, she got one. I think that means she's probably going to put a few more in and it'll help our team. She's been working really hard, doing the little things right, helping us out on the penalty kill. It's nice to finally see her get rewarded with a goal."

Four minutes later, fresh off her first collegiate goal on Friday, Johnson struck again. Set up by Howser and Spring, she sent one in from the point that made its way through traffic and into the net.

"That was a great shot," Witt said. "Ankle-high shots to the corner always have a chance to go in. That was a very nice pass by Howser to set that goal up, so that was altogether a nice play."

The Bulldogs were whistled for another penalty at 9:47, but Savard intercepted a pass in the Yale zone and cleared it.

Zilis smothered a shot by Elyse Cole with 5:33 remaining to keep Yale in the lead, then made a quick glove save when Duffy came in all alone on net with just over two minutes left in the period.

Another Yale penalty with 32 seconds left in the period gave the Bobcats their sixth power play, but Antoinette Maldonado's shot from center ice as time expired ended up in Zilis' glove. Zilis also denied a shot by Kristin Emerick with the power play still in effect as the third period began.

As the period wore on the Bulldogs continued to generate offensive chances. Brennan was able to get enough of a slap shot from Spring six minutes in to deflect it just wide.

With the Bulldogs on the attack, Quinnipiac's Kristin Alcorn hit Yale freshman forward Denise Soesilo from behind right near the boards with 7:57 left. Alcorn was issued a hitting from behind penalty and a game misconduct, giving Yale a chance to put the game away. Shortly after that five-minute penalty began, though, Yale incurred a two-minute penalty of its own.

After the Yale penalty expired, with the Bulldogs back on the power play, two great efforts by Spring at the blue line helped Yale keep the puck in the Quinnipiac zone. That eventually led to Soesilo sending a pass to sophomore defenseman Maggie Westfal at the point, and her shot from there set up freshman forward Mandi Schwartz' goal with only 3:52 remaining.

The Bulldogs had gotten their three-goal lead back, and this time they extended it instead of losing it. Assisted by Zingler, Savard added another goal with 1:27 left to make it 7-3.

Following the game Savard accepted the Nutmeg Classic trophy from Quinnipiac Director of Athletics Jack McDonald and Yale Senior Associate Athletic Director Wayne Dean in an on-ice presentation.

Zilis stopped 20 shots Sunday afternoon and finished the tournament with 48 saves on 51 shots to earn the Laurie Belliveau Award as the top goaltender. The award is named in honor of Laurie Belliveau '98, Yale's first Kazmaier Award finalist and a three-time first-team All-ECAC honoree.

"I thought Shivon was fantastic against UConn," Witt said. "Today, she came back in the second and third and was outstanding. She made some huge saves in the third period, so she really deserved it. I'm really proud of her."

Howser finished with two goals, one assist and a +3 rating for the tournament as a whole and earned MVP honors.

"We've got to score more goals like Howser's first goal," Witt said. "She did a nice job getting herself ready. Her assist on Berit's goal was a beautiful pass, and the short-handed goal Friday (to make the score 3-0 in the third) was a huge goal for us. She found a way to put the puck in the net, and we need her to do that."

The seven-goal output was Yale's highest total since scoring nine goals against Union Feb. 11. Seven different players accounted for the Bulldogs' 10 goals in the tournament.

"Overall, it was a team effort," Witt said. "In the game against UConn, we played really hard. Today, we found a way to win."

Yale returns to action with ECAC games at Union and RPI next weekend.

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