Yale Advances to Nutmeg Classic Championship Game with 4-3 OT Win Over UConn

Yale celebrates Kate Martini's game-winning goal in overtime in the first round of the 2012 Nutmeg Classic. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Yale celebrates Kate Martini's game-winning goal in overtime in the first round of the 2012 Nutmeg Classic. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Martini Scores Game-Winner; Bulldogs Play BC for Title

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – For the seventh time in the tournament's nine-year history, the Yale women's ice hockey team will play for the Nutmeg Classic championship. But it did not come easily in the first round Friday night at Ingalls Rink, as the Bulldogs fell behind by two goals twice before rallying to beat UConn 4-3 in overtime. Freshman defenseman Kate Martini scored the game-winner with 2:45 left in the extra session, earning Yale the chance to play No. 5/6 BC for the tournament title Saturday night at Ingalls. Sophomore goaltender Jaimie Leonoff finished with 29 saves.

The Bulldogs rallied with two goals in the third period to tie the game, including one from senior forward Alyssa Zupon and one from junior forward Paige Decker -- her first career goal.

"It was nice to see the team get rewarded for their work," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. "Paige Decker had a great tip, and that was a great effort from Zupon's line to get our second goal. We were able to sustain pressure after scoring that one; we kept coming at them."

UConn (2-11-2, 1-5-0 Hockey East) jumped out to a quick lead with a pair of goals in the first 12 minutes, as forwards Stephanie Raithby and Michela Cava scored.

The Huskies finished the period with an 11-5 advantage in shots, but were called for a penalty with 24.7 seconds left that wound up helping Yale (2-9-0, 1-5-0 ECAC Hockey) get back in the game. The Bulldogs nearly capitalized on the power play as time expired in the first, but senior forward Danielle Moncion sent a shot just wide from in front before the horn sounded. As it turned out, the Yale power play was not done generating chances. It took only 29 seconds into the second for the Bulldogs to creep within one, as Martini slapped one in off assists from freshman forward Janelle Ferrara and Moncion.

Shortly after the goal the Bulldogs had a streak of 13 straight faceoff wins to start the game snapped, and a minute after the goal they had to kill off their first penalty. They were 46 seconds away from doing so successfully when they caught a tough break, as a shot by UConn forward Rachel Farrel hit a Yale player in front of the net and deflected in to bring the Huskies' lead back to two goals.

The Yale power play produced a couple shots on its next try, but Huskies goalie Elaine Chuli swallowed up one from sophomore forward Stephanie Mock, and junior defenseman Tara Tomimoto sent a slap shot just wide. UConn kept its 3-1 lead into the third period.

That period wound up being a dramatic reversal of the first two. After being outshot 21-11 in the first 40 minutes, the Bulldogs played the Huskies even in the shot category in the final 20 of regulation (11-11).

"In the third we worked the turkey out," said Flygh. "We had a little more jump, and we also went back to our old forecheck."

Yale crept closer with 18:47 to play when Zupon, Yale's captain, knocked in a loose puck with Chuli out of position. Sophomore defenseman Madi Murray got the play started with a shot that Chuli stopped, and senior forward Jen Matichuk assisted on the play as well.

The Bulldogs tied it up with 13:50 to play when Decker scored her first career goal, redirecting a shot by Martini. Tomimoto assisted on the play. 

Leonoff kept her team in the game with three saves from point-blank range in a matter of seconds with 10:30 to play, a sequence that was initiated by a shot from forward Sarah MacDonnell.

The Huskies got a power play with eight minutes to play, but Leonoff made three more saves -- the last a kick save on a shot by forward Leah Buress as the power play expired -- to kill off that penalty.

Ferrara just missed netting the game-winner with 2:30 to play when she fought through a UConn defender and got off a shot that sailed past the upper right corner of the net. The majority of the final two minutes was played in the UConn zone, but the Bulldogs could not get any more quality chances and the teams headed to overtime.

Martini's game-winner came on a shot from just inside the blue line near the right boards. Decker was once again in the middle of the action, cycling the puck down low from Mock to Martini, whose slap shot found its way inside the near post through heavy traffic. Martini has now taken over the team lead in points (3-5-8).

"That's something we've talked about, using our defensemen offensively," said Flygh. "We cycled the puck well, and got a couple of great screens in front from [junior forward] Patricia McGauley and Steph Mock."

Boston College defeated Quinnipiac 3-0 in the opener. Quinnipiac and UConn will play each other at 4:00 p.m. in the consolation game before the Bulldogs and Eagles square off for the title at 7:00 p.m.

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

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