Snikeris’ 38 Saves Earn 2-2 Tie at No. 6/7 Cornell

Jackee Snikeris. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Hughes Scores Both Yale Goals

ITHACA, N.Y. - After Yale's 2-2 tie with No. 6/7 Cornell Friday night, the scoreboard operator at Lynah Rink accidentally left the shots on goal count for the Big Red running, finally stopping it at 74. For those who watched Yale junior goaltender Jackee Snikeris' performance in this game, a total of 72 saves actually didn't seem out of the question. Snikeris' real total was 38, her best effort of the season, and she was a big reason why her team earned a point in the ECAC Hockey standings despite being outshot 40-16.

Snikeris entered this season with high expectations, coming off a 2008-09 season in which she finished fourth in the country in save percentage (.934) and eighth in goals-against average (1.67). Her numbers in those same categories entering Friday were .884 and 3.37 respectively, so it was clear that she was due for a big game.

"Snik was Snik tonight," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "She was great. She was aggressive and she looked confident. She's been working on that, and also working on keeping it simple. Our forwards were also much better at helping out, and our defensemen were aggressive. Plus Snik controlled a lot of rebounds."

The Bulldogs were actually 13 seconds away from a 2-1 win, but Cornell got an extra-attacker goal from forward Melanie Jue to tie it. Jue was camped out near the crease and was able to redirect the puck in after forward Chelsea Karpenko poked it in front.

Cornell (7-4-2, 6-1-2 ECAC Hockey) controlled the play right from the start Friday, outshooting the Bulldogs 19-9 in the first period, but Snikeris made it clear early on that she was on her game. Her first big save came three minutes in, when she kicked aside a shot by forward Carlee Overguard from the slot after a turnover in the Yale zone. Three minutes later the Big Red had an odd-man rush and Overguard got behind the Yale defense, but Snikeris ranged out of the crease and smothered her shot off a crossing pass from forward Catherine White.

Yale was whistled for the first penalty of the game, but started off the successful kill with a penalty killing unit that included three freshmen -- defenseman Jamie Gray, defenseman Tara Tomimoto and forward Alyssa Zupon -- along with sophomore forward Becky Mantell. That's the sort of alignment that has become typical for a Yale team where seven of 17 skaters are freshmen. The Bulldogs finished off the kill with a more experienced unit -- sophomore defenseman Heather Grant, sophomore forward Aleca Hughes, junior forward Bray Ketchum and junior defenseman Samantha MacLean. Ketchum broke up one pass with her stick, then broke up a shot, and Hughes finished off the kill with a long clear from along the right boards.

The Big Red jumped on top 1-0 at 14:32, as forward Laura Danforth one-timed a pass from forward Liz Zorn past Snikeris. But Yale (2-8-2, 1-7-1 ECAC Hockey) responded 27 seconds later, as Zupon and Hughes worked to deny a Cornell clear attempt and Hughes was able to skate in for a wrister from the left circle that tied the game 1-1.

Yale got its first power play with 10.5 seconds left in the first, and Grant was able to get off a shot that goalie Amanda Mazzotta stopped shortly before the period ended.

Cornell continued its offensive onslaught in the second period with 22 more shots, but Snikeris stopped them all. The Bulldogs also began generating some more offensive chances of their own, starting two minutes in when Ketchum fought off a Big Red defender to chase down a pass in the Cornell zone and get off a shot that Mazzotta saved. Ketchum later set up the go-ahead goal, getting the puck from behind the net to Hughes, whose wrister from the slot beat Mazzotta high on her glove side at 10:48.

The Bulldogs were back on the penalty kill four minutes later, but kept the Big Red from generating any quality chances. Shortly after MacLean blocked a slap shot in the slot, a Cornell penalty brought the Big Red power play to a premature end.

Hughes just missed out on a hat trick when she blocked a shot three minutes into the third and then carried the puck up the ice for a shot that Mazzotta saved. Four minutes later Snikeris came up with a big stop of a powerful slap shot from defenseman Amanda Young.

The Big Red had a golden opportunity to tie the game midway through the third when a pair of Yale penalties gave Cornell a 5-on-3 for 29 seconds. Ketchum, MacLean and senior defenseman Alyssa Clarke came on for the penalty kill, which got off to an unlucky start when Ketchum's attempt at a clearing pass hit a Cornell skate and stayed in the zone. But MacLean was eventually able to intercept a Big Red pass and backhand it out.

Cornell, which entered the game converting 21.3 percent of its power plays (third in the country), finished 0-for-4.

"We worked on the penalty kill a lot this week," said Witt. "Our kids really answered the call."

After the Big Red tied the game with 13 seconds left, the Bulldogs were able to regroup and pull out a hard-earned tie. Snikeris was once again the key in overtime, stopping five shots. That included one just 15 seconds in where White's crossing pass found a wide-open Overguard in the left circle. Snikeris ranged out of the crease to stuff that attempt.

"I'm really proud of the way our kids responded," Witt said. "To get scored on with so little time left in the game can be deflating. Our kids kept fighting to get that point."

Yale returns to action Saturday at Colgate at 4 p.m.

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

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