January 15, 2010

Matichuk’s First Career Goal is Game-Winner as Snikeris Blanks Union 3-0

Yale Goalie Makes 29 Saves for 11th Career Shutout 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - If the Yale women's hockey team is going to make a move in the ECAC Hockey standings in the second half of the season, the Bulldogs are going to need scoring from their top line, contributions from their large freshman class, and great goaltending. They got all of those things Friday night in a 3-0 win over Union at Ingalls Rink, as a pair of freshmen scored -- forward Jen Matichuk got her first and defenseman Tara Tomimoto got her second -- and the team's leading scorer, junior forward Bray Ketchum, also added a goal. Junior goalie Jackee Snikeris made 29 saves for her 11th career shutout, moving with one of the school career record.

This is the fourth game in a row that Yale has had a freshman score her first career goal, as defenseman Emily DesMeules did it against Vermont, forward Alyssa Zupon did it at BU and Tomimoto did it at BC.

"We've been giving away a lot of pucks this year," Witt said, referring to the team's practice of getting the puck for each player that scores her first career goal. "Hopefully that trend continues."

The Bulldogs were whistled for the first penalty of the game at 4:21, but Snikeris stopped the only shot the Dutchwomen could get on goal before incurring a penalty of their own. After the teams were done skating four-on-four the Bulldogs had a brief power play, but a shot by Tomimoto hit the post and bounced out after getting past Union goalie Alana Marcinko. Marcinko finished the period with eight saves, denying a pair of up-close chances from freshman forward Danielle Moncion and senior forward Berit Johnson in the final nine minutes.

DesMeules started the sequence for Yale's first goal by getting the puck out of Yale's zone to Matichuk, who exchanged it with Johnson in the neutral zone. Johnson then carried it in for a shot on goal. Marcinko was able to stop that one but the rebound ricocheted out into the slot, where Matichuk slid in and deposited it for a 1-0 lead at 10:31.

"One of the things we kept talking about was getting in position to get rebounds," Witt said. "We felt there were a lot of them. That was just a good hustle play to a loose puck by Jen."

The Dutchwomen nearly evened things up just 30 seconds later, as speedy forward Emilie Arsenault passed the puck off the boards to herself to get behind the Yale defense for a wrister. Snikeris stopped that one, and the Bulldogs were eventually able to extend their lead in the midst of a slew of penalties near the end of the period. The Bulldogs had just seen a 5-on-4 advantage end early, with a Yale penalty, at 16:39 when the Dutchwomen were hit with a too many men on the ice penalty. Tomimoto took immediate advantage, blasting a slap shot in after Moncion won the faceoff back to her.

"We're trying to get our D to get pucks through to the net," Witt said. "Tara's done a nice job of making sure she doesn't hold on to the puck too long."

The Bulldogs were hit with a penalty right after the goal, but Snikeris denied some long-distance shots and Yale took a 2-0 lead into the third period.

A penalty on the Dutchwomen 3:25 into the third almost led to a short-handed goal, but Snikeris gloved a shot from forward Rhianna Kurio to keep Union off the scoreboard. A penalty on the Bulldogs five minutes later led to a pair of quality chances, but Snikeris stopped a slap shot by defenseman Jackie Koetteritz and forward Kelly Alyea's attempt to stuff in the rebound. Snikeris also gloved a shot by Koetteritz with heavy traffic in front of the net right after the penalty expired.

Union (4-18-1, 0-10-1 ECAC Hockey) called timeout and pulled Marcinko with 2:29 to play, but the Bulldogs immediately made them pay. Junior defenseman Samantha MacLean got the puck off the boards to sophomore forward Aleca Hughes deep in Yale's zone, and she hit Ketchum in stride at center ice. Ketchum beat the one defender she had to for a chance to put the puck in the empty net and seal the victory with 2:05 left. Marcinko then went back in the net and denied a Hughes backhander for the last of her 20 saves.

While the win was crucial for a Yale team hoping to move into one of the eight ECAC Hockey playoff spots, the biggest story of the night at Ingalls Rink was actually sitting quietly in the stands a few rows up from the ice. Senior forward Mandi Schwartz was back at The Whale to see her team play a game in person for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia 13 months earlier. Now in remission, Schwartz has returned to school for the spring semester. She has been practicing with the team and plans to play in 2010-11.

"Mandi's return has been a huge lift for us," Witt said. "She's a big part of this team, and really helps with the team chemistry. It's the second half, our kids have been working hard, and they're excited to battle to get back into the playoffs."

Yale (5-10-3, 3-7-1 ECAC Hockey) returns to action Saturday at 4 p.m. vs. RPI at Ingalls Rink.

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

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