February 4, 2011

Firsts for Ciotti and Davis, Plus Snikeris’ 15th Shutout, Add Up to 5-0 Win

Yale Tops Union

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – It was a night of firsts for a pair of Yale forwards, and also a feat that never gets old for a certain Yale goaltender. Freshman forward Jenna Ciotti had her first hat trick and junior forward Lauren Davis scored her first goal to lead the Yale offense. Senior goalie Jackee Snikeris was once again the backbone of the Yale defense, making 16 saves to earn her second straight shutout and extend her school record in that category to 15.

Yale has now outscored its last two opponents 9-0, and Friday night's win saw the Bulldogs tie their season high for goals in a game (they also scored five to beat UConn 5-2 Nov. 26). Whereas Tuesday night's 4-0 win at Brown saw Yale score three times in the first period, this time the Bulldogs broke out with three goals in the second.

Buoyed by two power-play opportunities, Yale outshot Union (1-25-3, 0-15-2 ECAC Hockey) 11-2 in the first, but failed to score. The Bulldogs had shots by senior forward Bray Ketchum and sophomore forward Danielle Moncion blocked on their first power play, and Union goalie Katie Gallagher saved a shot by junior forward Aleca Hughes.

The Dutchwomen did not get their first shot on goal until nearly 10 minutes into the game. Five minutes after that the Bulldogs got their second power play, but Gallagher turned aside a shot by freshman forward Jackie Raines and made a kick save on a slapper from junior defenseman Heather Grant. She also knocked away a shot from sophomore defenseman Jamie Gray just as the teams were getting back to full strength. Gallagher ended her busy period with a save on Raines, who carried the puck nearly the entire length of the ice with 30 seconds left.

Ciotti had scored Yale's first goal in Tuesday night's win at Brown, and she repeated that feat Friday night. This time, two minutes into the second period, she took advantage of a feed from Davis that bounced off a Union player in the right circle to skate in for a wrister past Gallagher at 2:16.

Yale did not let up after taking the 1-0 lead. One of Union's few threats came on a 2-on-1 eight minutes in, but Grant broke up that play. A minute later Ciotti just missed a goal when Gallagher got part of her glove on a shot but it popped loose behind her, traveling just over the crossbar.

Ciotti made up for that near-miss on her next chance. Raines set up sophomore defenseman Emily DesMeules for a wide-open shot from the blue line. Gallagher made a kick save on that one, but Ciotti was camped out to Gallagher's left and tapped the rebound in to make it 2-0 Yale at 10:44.

Yale generated several Grade-A chances on another power play with five minutes left in the period, but Gallagher was up to the task. Penalties on each team left the final few minutes of the second to be determined by special teams, and the Bulldogs had the edge there. Gallagher saved a shot by Moncion that was set up by Gray. But Davis was positioned in the slot. She found the rebound at her feet, spun around with a defender on her and put it past a fallen Gallagher.

If the celebration after that goal was a bit spirited, it was probably because it was the first career goal for Davis, whose hard work has not gone unnoticed by her team.

"Lauren didn't play a lot her first two years, but now she's playing a big role for us," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. "She's a great teammate, and that explains why everyone celebrated so hard when she got that goal. We've had some injuries on the power play, and she has seized her opportunity to contribute there."

Grant removed any suspense from the third period by scoring on a slap shot a minute in to make it 4-0. In addition to Raines, Ciotti assisted on that play. She then finished off her hat trick with an acrobatic rebound goal five minutes later. Raines and senior defenseman Samantha MacLean assisted on that one.

"The potential has been there all year for Jenna," Flygh said. "She's just starting to get rewarded for her work now. I know right before Christmas she was frustrated, because she scored a goal in her first collegiate game and then had a bit of a drought. It's all part of the adjustment process. Since Christmas she's had nine points. She and Jackie Raines have a lot of chemistry, and they're starting to flourish on the ice."

Ciotti and Raines have formed a formidable line with classmate Ashley Dunbar, who returned Friday night after being sidelined for the previous game. That reunited what Flygh affectionately referred to as the "Smurf line", because what the trio lacks in height they make up for in speed. In his first season at Yale, Flygh is looking forward to building a team around that particular attribute in the same way that the Yale men's hockey team has been built under Keith Allain '80.

"Dunbar's getting more aggressive," Flygh said. "I'm excited for her future, both for the rest of this season and beyond as she builds up her strength to go along with her speed. She's got a lot of hockey left in her. That line fits very well into what we want to be -- take the mold from the men's team and build around speed and skill."

Snikeris made six saves in the third to finish off the shutout. Grant backhanded the puck out of the Yale zone with 30 second to play to end Union's last offensive threat.

Yale (7-14-2, 6-9-1 ECAC Hockey) visits RPI Saturday afternoon.

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

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