November 17, 2005

The Game, Women's Hockey Style

Nov. 17, 2005

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The night before Yale and Harvard clash on the football field for the 122nd time, they will meet on the ice for the 58th time (7:00 face-off). The women's hockey edition of this great rivalry has taken on a renewed importance in recent years, as three of the last four meetings between these two teams have been decided by one goal. That included a 3-2 win for Yale last November at Ingalls, the first win for the Bulldogs over the Crimson since 1984. Saturday's visitor to Ingalls, the Dartmouth Big Green (4:00 face-off), has a similarly long streak going that the Bulldogs hope to put and end to. Both games are available via GameTracker on yalebulldogs.com.

The 49-7-1 all-time edge for Harvard against Yale does not tell the story of the last few years. The Bulldogs put a scare into a Crimson team that was on its way to the NCAA Frozen Four with 59:53 of scoreless hockey from Sarah Love on Mar. 6, 2004. Love made 45 saves, but her counterpart Ali Boe stopped all 19 Yale shots. A goal by Nicole Corriero on a 4-on-3 advantage with seven seconds left gave Harvard the win, but Yale had clearly closed the gap in a series that once regularly featured lopsided scores (Harvard outscored Yale 45-5 between 1993-94 and 1997-98).

The Bulldogs finally broke through on Nov. 12, 2004. The 3-2 win at Ingalls, powered by 48 saves from Love, snapped a string of 39 Crimson wins in the series and earned a mention in the New York Times, among other places. Nicole Symington, Kelsey Johnson and Erin Duggan scored for Yale, while Deena Caplette and Sheila Zingler had assists along with Duggan and Johnson.

When the two teams met again at Harvard in January a 2-1 Yale lead after the first 34:46 dissolved into an 11-2 Harvard blowout, but the Bulldogs were ready when the teams met again in the ECACHL semifinals. Harvard took a 1-0 lead at 8:13 of the third, and the Bulldogs pulled Love (37 saves) in the game's waning moments. The extra attacker strategy paid off when Jenna Spring poked in the game-tying goal with 14.2 seconds left to play, assisted by Duggan and Helen Resor. But a power-play goal by Harvard in overtime helped the Crimson advance to the ECACHL finals, where they defeated Dartmouth.

The Big Green has a history against Yale that the Bulldogs would like to start changing as well. Dartmouth's 54-3-1 overall record against Yale includes 40 wins in a row, dating back to a 3-2 Yale victory Feb. 1, 1986. The last few meetings have been close ones, though. Facing elimination in the second game of the ECACHL quarterfinals at Thompson Arena in the 2004 playoffs, the Bulldogs hung tough until an empty-net goal by Katie Weatherston with 55 seconds left gave Dartmouth a 4-2 lead. Still, the Bulldogs got a tally from Johnson 41 seconds later to show that they would not go down easily. Last February the Big Green overcame a 2-1 Yale lead in the second period at Hanover to win 3-2. Dartmouth also beat Yale 9-1 in New Haven.

These games will also provide a glimpse of the new state of affairs in women's college hockey nationally. Dartmouth and Harvard both were in the Frozen Four last year but have several players away for Olympic training this year, including three from Harvard (Caitlin Cahow and Julie Chu with Team USA and Sarah Vaillancourt with Team Canada) and four from Dartmouth (Weatherston, Gillian Apps and Cherie Piper with Team Canada and Sarah Parsons with Team USA). Yale is playing without Resor, who is with Team USA.

The Bulldogs are also still without two recruits who participated in the USA Hockey Player Development Program's 17/18 Festival over the summer. Maggie Westfal and Crysti Howser both played key roles in the Yale women's soccer team's 2-1 upset over Duke in the NCAA College Cup that has the Bulldogs playing in the Sweet 16 in that sport. Howser took a throw-in from Westfal, drew the Blue Devil goaltender out of position, then passed to Laurel Karnes for the game-winner with one second left to play last Sunday at the Yale Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. The women's soccer team plays at Notre Dame Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

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

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