NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Entering a crucial weekend of ECAC Hockey games, the Yale women's ice hockey team knew it had a top line that could score goals -- the Bulldogs' top three of junior forward Eden Murray, senior forward Phoebe Staenz and senior forward Krista Yip-Chuck had combined for 23 tallies. But the Bulldogs also knew they would need scoring from other sources in order to emerge as a real threat come playoff time. Signs of the potential lurking in the rest of Yale's lineup came through in a big way Saturday, as three different players scored goals -- including the first goals of the season for junior forwards Kaitlin Gately and Courtney Pensavalle -- and freshman goaltender Tera Hofmann made a career-high 41 saves in a thrilling 3-2 win over Harvard.
"Any time we get secondary scoring, we've been successful" said Joakim Flygh, Yale's Susan Cavanagh Head Coach of Women's Ice Hockey. "This was a game where the complete focus of the other team was shutting down our top line. Harvard did that, but other kids stepped up."
Pensavalle got it started. Shortly after performing her usual duties of singing the National Anthem before the game -- this time joined by the rest of the a capella group she is in, the Unorthojocks -- Pensavalle capitalized on a chance in transition to send a hard slap shot on net from just outside the blue line, sneaking the puck past Harvard goaltender Brianna Laing's glove 5:10 in. Junior forward Emily Monaghan and Gately assisted on the play.
"Courtney's been squeezing the stick a little hard, so it was good for her to get that first goal," said Flygh. "It's a way to get a jolt of confidence."
The long-distance goal also had to be disheartening for Harvard, but the Crimson held on to keep Yale's lead at 1-0 heading into the second. Then, early in that frame, momentum shifted quickly in the Bulldogs' favor. First, freshman forward Laura Anderson corralled a bouncing puck deep in Harvard's zone and sent a shot on net from a tough angle, roofing another one past Laing at 4:32 of the second. Freshman defenseman Saroya Tinker and sophomore forward Jordan Chancellor assisted on the play. Chancellor finished the weekend with three points, her best weekend output since Oct. 21-22.
"That thing had eyes," Flygh said of Anderson's shot. "But all that stuff starts with driving hard to the net and having that traffic in front."
Less than a minute later the Bulldogs struck again, as Gately went hard to the net and got rewarded. As Laing collided with a Harvard player, she attempted to poke check the puck away only to send it right to Gately, who knocked in her second career goal. Junior forward Emily Monaghan and Pensavalle assisted on that play.
"Kaitlin had a similar opportunity yesterday [in Yale's 3-0 win vs. Dartmouth] and missed, so I'm sure she was determined to put it home today," said Flygh.
But after sophomore forward Emma Vlasic sent a tricky backhander on net that was stopped, the Bulldogs would not see many more chances for the rest of the period. Harvard benefitted from a delayed penalty on Yale at 9:51, getting a goal from forward Haley Mullins and then getting the power play as well. And shortly after killing that penalty, the Bulldogs incurred a pair of penalties at once, followed by a five-minute major just over 90 seconds later. They thus found themselves having to kill off a 5-on-3, and then another penalty, for the rest of the second and into the third.
That was where Hofmann in particular came up big. In large part due to the penalties, the Crimson outshot Yale 37-14 over the final two periods -- but other than Mullins' tally and a power play goal by forward Kaitlin Tse at 19:44 of the second, Hofmann stood tall. Her work was all the more impressive given that on Friday night the Bulldogs had started sophomore Kyra O'Brien in net, snapping a string of six straight stars by Hofmann. O'Brien responded with a shutout, but the Bulldogs stuck with their initial plan of putting Hofmann back in net Saturday.
"Going through the week, that was what we planned," said Flygh. "Tera's been very good. This was probably her best game. She won the game in the second period, dealing with that barrage of shots."
The last good chance for Harvard (3-14-2, 3-9-2 ECAC Hockey) was a wide shot by Tse with a minute left and Harvard's goalie pulled in favor of an extra attacker. The Bulldogs got a pair of critical clears in the final seconds to seal the win, sending the large crowd of Yale fans at Ingalls home happy. In addition to being Alumnae Day, this was also the team's annual "White Out for Mandi". The game is held as a fundraiser in memory of Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011). Mandi's courageous battle with cancer inspired people to join the Be The Match Registry® in her honor, helping save the lives of patients in need of marrow transplants. Saturday's game raised $5,000 for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.
Yale (7-11-3, 5-8-1 ECAC Hockey) returns to the ice next Friday, hosting Brown at 6:00 p.m.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (email@example.com, Yale Sports Publicity)