The Natural: Zingler's Hat Trick Lifts Yale Past Clarkson 5-1

Jan. 13, 2007

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Entering the day as the seventh-best defense in the country, the Clarkson Golden Knights allowed an average of fewer than two goals per game. Yale senior forward Sheila Zingler bested that number all by herself in the third period alone Saturday afternoon at Ingalls Rink. Zingler's natural hat trick broke open what had been a 2-1 game and lifted Yale to a 5-1 victory. The win was the 49th for Yale's seniors, making them the winningest class in school history.

The three-goal outburst gives Zingler eight for the season, tying her career high.

"The thing about Zingler is she always works really hard," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "You're never going to doubt that. It's just a matter of her shooting the puck at the right time and going to the net for rebounds. She has a finishing touch. I'm really happy for her to get those goals."

While it got lost in the shuffle of the third-period onslaught, The Bulldogs (10-8-0, 6-7-0 ECAC) got a taste of Clarkson's defense (1.87 goals allowed per game) early on. Yale could not even get a shot on net for the first 11:15 of the game. Freshman forward Denise Soesilo broke that string with a wrister that goaltender Kira Hurley stopped, but Yale finished the period with a mere four shots on goal.

Things were busier for Yale junior goalkeeper Shivon Zilis. She smothered a slap shot from Genevieve Lavoie, the Knights' leading scorer, four minutes in. Two minutes after that Zilis had to make a quick glove save on a wrist shot from Britney Selina. As the period came to a close the Knights kept the pressure on. Zilis gloved a wrister from Lindsay Williams just after a Yale penalty expired, then sprawled out to cover up a loose puck in the crease with 40 seconds left.

The period ended scoreless despite Clarkson's 10-4 shot advantage.

"I felt like the reason we stayed in the game in the first period was [sophomore forward] Sarah Tittman was flying," Witt said. "She was our sparkplug in the first. Each time she went out there she tried to get us moving a little bit, because we weren't moving very fast that period."

The Bulldogs were whistled for a checking penalty near the end of the first, so the Golden Knights (13-9-2, 5-6-1 ECAC) took a power play into the second period. They took advantage after a Yale clear sent the puck all the way down to Hurley. Hurley gave it to Carlee Eusepi, whose pass from the Clarkson zone led Mary-Jo Gaudet perfectly for a breakaway. Gaudet deked to get Zilis down, then backhanded the puck in at the 50-second mark. Ironically, a night after Yale hit the pipes three times in a loss to St. Lawrence, this puck hit the crossbar and dropped in past the goal line.

Sophomore forward Crysti Howser nearly tied the score 40 seconds later, but Hurley got just enough of her glove on the shot to knock it away. Ninety seconds later she got her left leg out just in time to deny Soesilo.

Clarkson's Britney Selina was whistled for elbowing senior defenseman Regan Gilbride at the 5:11 mark, giving Yale a chance to even the score. Hurley stopped a wrist shot from senior forward Jenna Spring, but shortly after that Soesilo took the puck in to the slot and backhanded it on net. Hurley was unable to control the rebound, so senior forward Kristin Savard swooped in and grabbed it, lifting it over Hurley to tie the score at 6:38.

"When [Clarkson] scored, our bench reacted very well," Witt said. "They told each other that they had a lot of time to go -- not to panic, not to worry about it, it'll come. To see Savard, who is a sparkplug for us, score that goal was pretty exciting. She works so hard, she gives herself a lot of chances."

The Bulldogs had to kill off two penalties on sophomore defenseman Helen Resor, one of their top penalty killers, later in the period. After they finished doing that Howser had a pair of near-goals, hitting one off Hurley's shoulder and just missing another on a feed from Savard in the slot.

Hurley denied freshman forward Mandi Schwartz off a turnover right in front of the Clarkson net with a minute to go, one of 16 shots on net Yale got in the second period after the slow start.

"Clarkson's very good about swarming the puck and not letting the puck get to the net," Witt said. "The last time we played them (a 4-2 loss), we got a little bit frustrated. This time we kept trying to get the puck to the net, kept going and didn't get frustrated. We got a little momentum."

The Bulldogs started the third period on the power play, and while they were not able to score they did set the tone for what became a decisively Yale-oriented finish. The Golden Knights attempted a pass out of their D-zone at the 3:41 mark that was intercepted by Howser, who quickly made the Knights pay for their mistake. She beat Hurley high on the glove side to break the deadlock.

The Bulldogs were whistled for roughing 40 seconds after the goal, but any thoughts that the Knights power play would net the game-tying goal were quickly erased. Once again the Bulldogs generated a turnover in the Clarkson zone, as Resor disrupted a Clarkson pass and fed Zingler for her first goal of the game.

"I think we were a little more disciplined on our forechecking," Witt said in explaining how Yale generated the key third-period turnovers. "That's what the forecheck is designed to do -- force the other team to turn the puck over."

Savard then drew a hooking call on the Golden Knights when she got behind the defense at the 5:06 mark, and Clarkson called timeout. The Knights killed off that penalty, but two minutes after it ended Yale's top line struck again. Spring worked the puck off the boards to Howser, who cut in on net but fooled the defense by leaving a deft backhand pass for Zingler right behind her. Zingler buried it for a 4-1 lead.

At the other end of the ice, the Bulldogs were giving the Knights a taste of what Yale had experienced in the first period. Christina Valesente's shot that whistled just wide of the net with five minutes to play was one of the few times the Knights got the puck anywhere near Zilis; they ended with only three shots on goal for the period.

"We went into the third saying we had to keep playing within our game plan," said Witt. "We had to get a lot of shots on goal, but we also had to come back -- get out of the zone if we lose possession. I thought we did that really well. We didn't give them a lot of chances in the zone, we didn't let them get to our net very much, and when we did Shivon was right there to stop the puck. She had a great game."

As the game's final minutes wore down the last suspense was whether Zingler, a finalist for the 2007 NCAA Skills Competition, could become the first Bulldog with a hat trick since Erin Duggan '05 accomplished the feat Jan. 14, 2005 in a 5-4 overtime loss at Ohio State. Zingler did it, once again assisted by both of her linemates. Howser got the puck to Spring, who sent a shot on net that was denied by a kick save from Hurley. But the rebound went right to Zingler, who potted it at the 16:12 mark. One appreciative fan even tossed a hat out on to the ice in Zingler's honor.

Zingler's performance was fitting for the game that broke the Class of 2007's tie with the Class of 2006 for winningest class in school history. The last three classes have all broken the record, which had been 35 by the class of 1987 until two years ago.

"It's well deserved -- they're a great class," Witt said of Yale's seniors (Gilbride, Savard, Spring, Zingler, senior goalkeeper Carrie Horbatuk, senior forward Kelsey Johnson, senior defenseman Nina Resor and senior forward Christina Sharun). "They've fought very hard for four years. They're a huge class (eight players), so they have a huge impact on this team."

Yale resumes ECAC play with a game against Cornell Friday at 7:00 at Ingalls Rink. A live video stream is scheduled to be available on yalebulldogs.com.

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

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