Bulldogs Eliminated from Postseason Contention
HAMDEN, Conn. - The Yale women's hockey team has not lost many ECAC Hockey games in the second half of the season, and the ones that they have lost have mainly been of the one-goal variety. The Bulldogs' fourth one-goal loss in conference play in the last four weeks came Friday night at Quinnipiac, 1-0. Coupled with Dartmouth's 4-1 win at Clarkson, it eliminated Yale from ECAC Hockey playoff contention.
The game started slowly for both teams, as there were just three shots on goal in the first six minutes -- all by Quinnipiac. Yale did not get its first shot on goal until 9:31 was left in the period, when Bobcat goalie Victoria Vigilanti gloved a shot by junior forward Bray Ketchum after junior defenseman Samantha MacLean found Ketchum at the QU blue line with a pass from deep in Yale's zone.
Senior defenseman Alyssa Clarke sent a slap shot wide after another Yale shot was blocked with 7:30 left in the period, and other than that Yale's only other threat came when the puck was loose in the Quinnipiac crease for several seconds with a number of players from each team battling for it and Vigilanti watching for it. The Bobcats were eventually able to clear the puck out of danger.
The Bobcats were able to turn up the offensive intensity thanks to a series of penalties on Yale late in the period. After one 40-second 5-on-3 for Quinnipiac ended thanks to some saves by Snikeris and a block by freshman defenseman Tara Tomimoto, the Bobcats got another one with 12.2 seconds left in the period. Clarke blocked a last-second shot, but the two infractions carried over into the start of the second period.
Snikeris made a glove save just nine seconds into the second, and 30 seconds in the Bobcats had a premature celebration when a shot hit the pipe but the red light behind the goal momentarily went on. The Bulldogs kept playing and were able to clear the puck, and at the first stoppage of play after that the officials conferred to make sure that the puck had not crossed the goal line. Sophomore forward Becky Mantell brought Yale's penalty killing to an end with a long pass that gave Ketchum a chance to get off a good shot that Vigilanti denied.
The Bobcats entered the game with the best defense in the country statistically, and they continued to make all the necessary plays to help Vigilanti as the scoreless tie wore on. Quinnipiac's defense tied up senior forward Berit Johnson with the puck loose in the crease nine minutes into the period. Shortly after that Vigilanti stopped a backhander by Johnson after MacLean had a shot blocked.
Snikeris was not as busy in the second period as she was in the first (15 saves in the first, 11 in the second), but she still had to make some tough saves. Midway through the period, after denying forward Janine Duffy on a 2-on-1, she also had to make a save when forward Kallie Flor blocked a Yale shot and skated up to the neutral zone for a long shot.
Mantell generated one of the Bulldogs' best threats of the night when she carried the puck in on the left wing and got off two shots that Vigilanti saved. With the puck still in the QU zone, freshman defenseman Jamie Gray was able to get off a shot that was deflected away as well.
The only penalty of the second came on Yale with 4:59 to play. Sophomore defenseman Heather Grant cleared the puck right after the faceoff, and sophomore forward Aleca Hughes had an interception in the neutral zone that enabled her to dump the puck low. Clarke added a blocked shot followed by a clear, and a backhanded clear by freshman forward Alyssa Zupon helped finish off the kill. Right as it ended the Bulldogs caught the Bobcats on a line change, but Hughes' shot was stopped.
Snikeris made a nice kick save on a shot by forward Kristen Eklund a minute into the third, and shortly after that the Bulldogs had what wound up being their only power play of the game. Ketchum was checked, giving Yale the man advantage with 14:03 to play, but the only threats for Yale were a Ketchum shot that was blocked and a nice play by Grant, skating through the defense, that ended with the puck being poked away from her.
Shortly after that the Bobcats got the only goal they needed, as forward Kallie Flor knocked one past a prone Snikeris at the 8:46 mark.
Quinnipiac (17-8-8, 10-4-7 ECAC Hockey) very nearly extended the lead immediately, but Snikeris made a spectacular save with her right leg to deny forward Heather Hughes after a feed from forward Kelley Davies during a 2-on-1. Snikeris also had to deny Hughes with less than eight minutes to play when she was able to fight off a Yale defender to chase down a puck and get off a shot.
Vigilanti made a pair of saves on Tomimoto with five minutes left, then stopped and covered a shot by Hughes from the right wing with a Bulldog perfectly positioned looking for the rebound.
Ketchum sent a pair of wristers wide with 90 seconds to play, and the Bulldogs pulled Snikeris with 49 seconds left as they were in transition. That led to a Hughes shot that Vigilanti saved just as Ketchum and a Quinnipiac player collided with her. Ketchum, a nominee for the Patty Kazmaier Award, and Hughes finished with eight of Yale's 17 shots on goal.
An icing on the Bobcats with the Yale net empty gave the Bulldogs a faceoff in the Quinnipiac zone with 42 seconds left, but Quinnipiac was able to clear. Yale got the puck in one last time, but Ketchum's shot was blocked and the Bobcats were able to run out the final seconds. Snikeris finished with 32 saves, the 10th straight game the Patty Kazmaier Award nominee has reached the 30-save plateau.
At the same time the Bulldogs lost, Dartmouth finished off a win at Clarkson that puts the Big Green in control of the eighth and final ECAC Hockey playoff spot. Since Dartmouth has the tiebreaker edge on Yale (2-0-0 in head-to-head competition), Yale cannot pass the Big Green on the last day of the regular season tomorrow. Colgate's 2-1 win over Union leaves the Raiders one point ahead of Yale and one point behind Dartmouth, so the Raiders are the only team that can catch the Big Green.
Yale (10-15-3, 8-12-1 ECAC Hockey) finishes its season Saturday at Princeton at 4 p.m.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity