February 12, 2011

Ladiges’ 45 Saves Not Enough to Stop No. 2 Cornell from Beating Bulldogs

Aleca Hughes Scores Lone Bulldog Goal

ITHACA, N.Y. – Junior goalie Genny Ladiges made a career high 45 saves and held off No. 2 Cornell's high-powered offense as long as she could, and Yale even had a lead on the Big Red for 15 minutes after an early goal by junior forward Aleca Hughes Saturday afternoon at Lynah Rink. But Cornell exploded for four goals in the second period, including three in a span of less than two minutes, and went on to beat the Bulldogs 7-1.

Cornell (25-1-1, 19-0-1 ECAC Hockey, 1st) had clinched the ECAC Hockey regular season title last weekend, and received the trophy in a post-game ceremony Saturday. The Big Red entered the day third in the country in scoring offense, averaging nearly five goals per game. The Big Red also led the nation in scoring defense, allowing less than a goal per game. Coming off an 8-0 pasting of Brown the night before, and having scored five or more goals in five of the last seven games, the Big Red figured to give Ladiges a major test as she gave senior Jackee Snikeris a breather. Ladiges was up to the task, but the law of averages eventually caught up to her as Cornell outshot Yale 52-17 for the win.

"Genny played great," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. "She kept us in the game in the first period. It was great to see her take advantage of the opportunity to play. We have had great goaltending all year, and that didn't change today."

Ladiges made 15 saves in the first, including several spectacular ones. Two minutes in, forward Rebecca Johnston carried the puck in during a 2-on-1 and elected to shoot but was denied. That save led to the Bulldogs scoring in transition, as senior forward Bray Ketchum set up Hughes for a wrister that dinged in off the post for a 1-0 Yale lead at 2:52.

"That was just a great 2-on-1," Flygh said. "As soon as I saw Aleca wind up I knew she was going to score. She's done it in practice so many times. When she gets an opportunity to shoot top shelf glove side she buries it."

The early lead stood up for 15 minutes thanks mainly to the work of Ladiges. Right after the Yale goal a turnover in the neutral zone gave forward Jessica Campbell the chance to skate in all alone, as the Bulldogs were caught in a line change. But Ladiges stopped her wrist shot and covered up the rebound.

Six minutes in the Big Red got another breakaway, as forward Brianne Jenner got behind the Bulldog defense. But Ladiges came out of the crease and went down to both knees to smother Jenner's shot. Ladiges had to check behind her to make sure the puck had not squirted through, but it remained safely underneath her and the Yale lead was intact.

Even with Yale on the power play 12 minutes in, the Big Red continued to generate chances. Forward Catherine White carried the puck in for a short-handed chance, but after several dekes she was turned aside by Ladiges' outstretched left leg at the post.

Cornell goalie Lauren Slebodnick made her toughest save of the first with four minutes left, when Ketchum put the puck on net and sophomore forward Alyssa Zupon tried backhanding the rebound in.

Shortly after that a penalty on the Bulldogs gave the Big Red the chance to score the game-tying goal, a power-play tally by White set up by forwards Hayley Hughes and Chelsea Karpenko.

As much offensive pressure Cornell had applied in the first, the second period wound up seeing even more. But other than a rough two-minute stretch late in the period, Ladiges remained nearly perfect. Defenseman Laura Fortino scored off a rebound at 4:11 to give the Big Red the lead, but right after that Ladiges stopped another 2-on-1 shot by Campbell. Thirty seconds later a turnover in front of the net gave Johnston the chance to rip a shot that appeared to be headed for the upper right corner, but Ladiges whipped her glove up to snare it. Ladiges then closed up the five hole on Karpenko, who made a spinning attempt from the slot.

Yale only had five shots on goal in the second, and one near miss when Hughes could not get a deflection of Ketchum's pass leading her toward the right post.

The Bulldogs killed off another penalty midway through the period thanks to a series of big saves by Ladiges, but shortly after that the Big Red broke through in a big way. Forward Olivia Cook started a quick three-goal run by scoring off a rebound at 12:58. Fifty seconds later, Jenner walked the puck in and slipped a backhander high past a surprised Ladiges. A penalty on the Bulldogs after that gave Campbell the chance to score a power-play goal at 14:39 that made it 5-1 Cornell.

"We were fired up after coming out of the first period tied at one, and we had followed our game plan," Flygh said. "Towards the end of the second period we started giving up too many opportunities, too many rebounds. You can't expect your goaltender to make three or four saves in a row."

Karpenko scored at 4:45 of the third and Johnston added one at 14:49 to make it 7-1. Slebodnick stopped an attempt by sophomore defenseman Natalie Wedell to stuff the puck in with a minute to play, finishing with 16 saves. The win extends Cornell's unbeaten streak to 22 games (21-0-1), the longest in the country.

Yale (7-16-3, 6-11-2 ECAC Hockey, 10th), hosts Brown Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

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

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