Bulldogs Take Game One of ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Yale sophomore forward Janelle Ferrara's power play goal at 17:33 of the second overtime capped an epic ECAC Hockey quarterfinal battle at Bright-Landry Hockey Center Friday night, lifting the Bulldogs to a 3-2 win over No. 5 Harvard that puts the Bulldogs one victory away from advancing to the ECAC Hockey semifinals. Junior goalie Jaimie Leonoff made 55 saves for the win, her second against the Crimson this year. This was Yale's first postseason win since 2005.
Yale (9-14-7, 6-9-7 ECAC Hockey) was in the postseason for the first time since 2008, and the first period saw the Bulldogs trying to find their way as Harvard out shot them 15-5. Leonoff made several highlight-reel saves, though, keeping the game from getting out of hand early. Eight and a half minutes in she reacted quickly to kick away a redirection by forward Jessica Harvey from high in the slot. Ten minutes in Leonoff faced Harvard forward Hillary Crowe on a 2-on-1, and used her shoulder to get just enough of Crowe's shot to send it wide of the net. With four minutes left in the period a faceoff in the Yale zone led to a chance right in front of the net for forward Elizabeth Parker, but Leonoff denied her and then covered the rebound. A minute later she stuffed two attempts from in front by forward Samantha Reber. She finished the first period with 15 saves.
"Jaimie gets in a zone some times, and she was there all night long tonight," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. "She didn't have any lapses in nearly 100 minutes of hockey. She turned in one of the best performances of her career."
Yale had the only power play of the first, but did not get any shots. The Bulldogs' best chance of the period came five minutes in, when junior forward Jackie Raines grabbed a loose puck deep in the Harvard zone and skated in for a shot that was covered by Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmeyer. Maschmeyer also stopped a long-distance attempt by Raines with 30 seconds left in the period, and the teams skated into the first intermission scoreless.
"Harvard was very good in the first period," said Flygh. "I thought they really took it to us, but we got better in the second."
Leonoff kept up her excellent work as the second period got underway, stopping a one-timer by forward Sydney Daniels five minutes in and then coming out to stop a wrister by Reber just seconds later.
Penalties on each team in a span of five seconds gave Yale the chance to take the lead with the teams skating 4-on-4. After Leonoff made a pair of saves on defenseman Natasha Rachlin -- the last a flashy glove save -- Raines came charging into the Harvard zone on a 2-on-1 with Ferrara. Raines carried the puck almost all the way to the left post before jamming it past Maschmeyer for a 1-0 lead at the 6:56 mark. In addition to Ferrara, sophomore defenseman Kate Martini assisted on the play.
"That was one great effort by Jackie Raines again," said Flygh. "She beat the D and was patient to wait the goalie out. I've seen her do it before, so I can't say I'm surprised, but it was a great play."
Penalties became a factor again as Harvard tied the score. Operating with an extra attacker thanks to a delayed penalty on the Bulldogs, Harvard defenseman Marissa Gedman sent a slap shot towards the net and past a screened Leonoff to make the score 1-1 at 12:15 of the second.
The Bulldogs still had to serve the penalty, but it wound up working out. As she got out of the penalty box outside the Harvard blue line, sophomore forward Jamie Haddad took a pass in transition from freshman forward Phoebe Staenz and then got the puck back to Staenz. Staenz carried the puck towards the left corner and then backhanded a pass across the ice that Raines got to Haddad, who backhanded it in from the right circle to put Yale back ahead, 2-1 at 14:20 of the second.
"That was a broken play," said Flygh. "But Jackie did a great job keeping the puck alive, and it ended up in the net because of that. This time of year, you just have to find ways to score."
Harvard (21-5-4, 16-3-3 ECAC Hockey) tied the game again three minutes into the third on an unassisted goal by forward Miye D'Oench, the Crimson's leading scorer. Yale got a power play with 13 minutes remaining in regulation, but one shot by Staenz was blocked and the other was stopped by Maschmeyer.
As the third wore on the scoring chances for each team waned, but Leonoff did have to make a great save on defenseman Abigail Frazer with five minutes left as Harvard's offense regained momentum. Daniels' attempt to follow up that shot went wide. Leonoff also gloved a redirection attempt from the left post by Reber with 3:30 remaining. She then denied a slap shot by Gedman in the final seconds to send the game into overtime. That was her 38th save of regulation.
Yale got a power play two minutes into the first overtime, but Maschmeyer made saves on senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto and Staenz to keep the game tied. A pair of Bulldog penalties, with 10 minutes left and with 6:45 left, put pressure on the Yale penalty killing unit. On the first one, two shots late in the power play by Harvard forward Gina McDonald and defenseman Briana Mastel were both stopped by Leonoff. Freshman defenseman Taylor Marchin also blocked a shot. On the second one, Haddad blocked a shot and a wide shot by D'Oench gave Yale the chance to clear. That penalty kill ended with a flurry of shots, as McDonald sent one wide and Daniels hit the pipe with her attempt to follow up. As the penalty expired, Leonoff made a save on Gedman and then stopped Reber's rebound attempt.
Leonoff finished with nine saves in the first overtime, and after Martini sent a slap shot wide in the final seconds the teams headed to a second overtime.
The length of the game clearly took its toll on players on both sides, but Yale's roster was deep enough to enable the Bulldogs to keep rolling out three lines of forwards.
"Going into overtime, you have to make a decision," said Flygh. "Do you play all your lines or cut back? We made a decision to play all three. [Junior forward] Stephanie Mock's line [with senior forward Patricia McGauley and freshman forward Gretchen Tarrant] gave us great energy. That was great to see."
Three power plays for the Bulldogs in the second overtime helped swing momentum in Yale's favor, though Yale did have to kill off a penalty as well. Leonoff made three saves on that kill, covering up a wrister by Reber as the penalty expired.
The Yale power play that led to the game-winner started 44 seconds after the end of the successful Bulldog penalty kill, as D'Oench ran into Leonoff to merit a whistle. Deep in Harvard's zone, Raines got the play started by taking the puck off the boards, skating in from the right side and sending a pass in front. Martini was stationed near the left post behind Maschmeyer and put the puck towards the goal line while falling down. Ferrara then came in on the right side and tapped it over the line to bring the game to an end at last, touching off a jubilant celebration by the Bulldogs.
In scoring the game-winner on a power play, Yale had to beat a Harvard penalty kill that entered the game leading the nation in penalty killing (.943).
"We were able to sustain pressure on all those late power plays, and [senior defenseman] Aurora Kennedy did a great job keeping the puck in the zone at one point," said Flygh. "Jackie Raines made a great effort on the game-winner, beating one kid, and Kate Martini did a great job keeping the puck alive so that Janelle just had to tap it in. We knew it wasn't necessarily going to be a pretty goal that would win this game."
Yale is attempting to make history by advancing as the No. 7 seed. Since the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals became a best-of-three series in 2002, the lowest seed to win a quarterfinal series has been No. 6 seeds Quinnipiac in 2012 and Rensselaer in 2009. Even winning a game has been rare for seeds that low -- it happened just twice before, in 2004 (No. 7 Colgate beat No. 2 St. Lawrence in game two), 2010 (No. 7 St. Lawrence beat No. 2 Clarkson in game two).
This marked the second time since January that Yale has won at Harvard, as the Bulldogs beat the Crimson 2-0 at Bright-Landry Hockey Center on Jan. 11. That Jan. 11 win was their first win at Harvard since 1981. Harvard had finished 11-2-2 at home in the regular season.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity