Marchin’s Last-Minute Game-Winner Puts Bulldogs in Nutmeg Classic Finals

Yale celebrates Taylor Marchin's game-winning goal. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Yale celebrates Taylor Marchin's game-winning goal. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Yale Edges UConn 5-4 in First Round

HAMDEN, Conn – A pair of comebacks and a last-minute goal added up to victory for the Yale women's ice hockey team Friday afternoon at TD Bank Sports Center, as freshman defenseman Taylor Marchin's power play goal gave the Bulldogs a 5-4 win over UConn in the first round of the Nutmeg Classic. The Bulldogs will now play for the tournament championship on Saturday, making this the eighth time in tournament's 10 year history that Yale has advanced to the championship game.

To get to Marchin's game winner Friday, which came with 39.5 seconds left in regulation, the Bulldogs twice had to rally back from deficits. They trailed 1-0 and 3-2.

"Our players know that this was not our best game in terms of execution," said head coach Joakim Flygh. "But it is always great to see a team finding ways to win games. That's what we did today."

The Bulldogs also continue to play without a fourth line, and entering Friday they had just eight healthy forwards. Freshman defenseman Abby Gahm stepped up to play forward and help complete a third line.

"We moved Abby Gahm up to forward and she did a great job for us," said Flygh. "She only had two days of practice as a forward, but she was able to help us. That was nice to see."

UConn (4-9-2, 1-4-1 Hockey East) scored on its first shot of the game, with forward Emily Snodgrass burying a wrister from between the circles at the 1:13 mark. Seven minutes later, sophomore forwards Janelle Ferrara and Jamie Haddad combined to tie the game. Haddad fed the puck to Ferrara at the doorstep. Ferrara's initial shot was denied by the leg of Huskies goaltender Elaine Chuli, but Ferrara knocked in the rebound to get the score to 1-1.

The Bulldogs went ahead 2-1 at the 13:50 mark, though no-one knew it for more than a minute. Ferrara carried the puck in on the right side of the UConn zone, then fired it across to senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto for a shot from the point. Tomimoto's shot was blocked in front of the goal, but freshman forward Krista Yip-Chuck was camped out at the left post and knocked the puck behind Chuli. A UConn player got her stick on the puck as it was crossing the goal line and was able to clear it away -- and the officials on the ice ruled that it was not a goal. Play continued until the 14:53 mark, when a stoppage enabled the officials to check the replay and award the goal to the Bulldogs.

Freshman goalie Hanna Mandl made a pair of saves to kill off a Yale penalty late in the first, but the Huskies power play struck on its second chance when another Bulldog penalty was called 20 seconds after the first one expired. Just seconds after sending a shot over the cross bar from low in the left circle, UConn forward Michaela Cava got another chance at the back door. She put that one home at 17:52 to tie the score at two.

Forward Kayla Campero fired in a wrist shot from the right circle 4:05 into the second period to give the lead back to UConn, 3-2.  Junior Jaimie Leonoff came on to play goal at that point.

Yale (3-7-1, 2-3-1 ECAC Hockey) battled back again, this time after senior defenseman Aurora Kennedy broke up a clearing attempt by the Huskies. Kennedy sent the puck down along the boards behind Chuli, where a forechecking freshman forward Phoebe Staenz disrupted Chuli's attempt to leave the puck for one of her defenders. Junior forward Stephanie Mock eventually chased the puck down in the corner to Chuli's left. From there, Mock sent the puck into the slot -- and it deflected in to the net off a UConn player to tie the game 3-3 at 9:09.

The Yale penalty kill unit had to kill off nearly a minute of a 5-on-3 late in the second. Sophomore defenseman Kate Martini got that sequence started with a clear immediately after the faceoff, and Yip-Chuck got two more clears before Kennedy stole the puck at center ice and drew a penalty on the Huskies with one second left on the 5-on-3.

Yale thus had an abbreviated power play after the second Bulldog penalty expired, though that nearly ended with a short-handed goal. After a Yale shot got blocked in the UConn zone, Huskies forward Sarah McDonnell chased down the puck at the UConn blue line and skated in on Leonoff with two Yale defenders in pursuit. But Leonoff came out to challenge her, forcing McDonnell to lose control of the puck and send it wide of the net. The score remained 3-3 heading into the third.

Leonoff wound up stopping 17 of the 18 shots she faced. She made one of her best saves 90 seconds into the third, sliding over to smother a wide-open slap shot by Campero from the right circle. Chuli answered less than three minutes later with a quick kick save, getting her right leg on a tough shot by Haddad.

Leonoff used her glove to deny a wrister from a wide-open forward Rachel Farrel with 9:20 to play, then came up with an even tougher save less than a minute later. The Bulldogs were trying to clear the puck when it deflected right to MacDonnell in the slot. Leonoff reacted quickly to keep the game tied, getting her right leg down to deny MacDonnell's backhanded attempt.

Leonoff's saves loomed even larger when the Bulldogs went down to the other end of the ice and took a 4-3 lead, as Staenz scored off assists by sophomore forward Hanna Åström and Mock at 11:54. But the Yale lead would be short-lived, as the Huskies evened things up two minutes later with another power play goal. Haddad blocked a pair of shots, and Kennedy intercepted a pass and cleared it to bring an end to UConn's first offensive series on the power play. But shortly after Leonoff kicked away a shot by Farrel, forward Susan Cavanaugh scored to tie the game 4-4.

Momentum swung back in Yale's favor when Staenz drew a hooking penalty on the Huskies with 1:56 to play. During the power play, Marchin had one slap shot denied but Yip-Chuck and Staenz got the puck back to her along the right-hand boards at the blue line. Marchin skated towards the center of the ice, then blasted one through traffic and over Chuli's right shoulder.

"We had a good screen in front," said Flygh. "Taylor can really shoot the puck. That's something we talked about -- getting pucks through to the net."

Including a six-goal game vs. Union earlier this year, this marks the first time since the 2007-08 season that Yale has scored five or more goals in a game at least two times in a season (the Bulldogs had four five-goal games that year). An even more encouraging sign is the fact that Friday's goals came from five different players.

"All year long we have had multiple lines that have done a really good job producing offensively," said Flygh. "That type of scoring by committee is something we need moving forward."

Yale will play No. 7 Quinnipiac, which beat RIT 8-0 Friday afternoon, in the championship game at 4:00 p.m. Saturday. A video stream of the game will be available for free on YouTube.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity