February 4, 2006

Yale Ends 25-Year Drought at No. 7 Harvard With 1-1 Tie

Feb. 4, 2006

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Finishing off a historic weekend trek through New England, Yale earned its first point at the Bright Center in 25 years with a 1-1 tie against No. 7 Harvard Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs got 40 saves from Sarah Love and a power-play goal from Maggie Westfal to earn the deadlock, which stopped a string of 23 straight Harvard wins in Cambridge in the series. The Bulldogs had three goals waved off in the whistle-filled game.

A busy first period in the penalty box started with Yale (7-10-5, 4-5-4 ECACHL) getting called for too many men six minutes in. Love sticked aside one Crimson shot, then kicked away another to kill off that penalty. Five minutes later Harvard (10-7-4, 7-3-4 ECACHL) had a 2-on-1 when Jennifer Sifers tried a blast that Love gloved.

Yale killed off the next penalty with Regan Gilbride breaking up a Crimson play and Danielle Kozlowski getting the clear shortly before the Bulldogs drew a holding the stick penalty on Harvard.

The penalties kept on coming as the period drew to a close, and back-to-back calls against the Crimson gave Yale 1:47 of 5-on-3 with 2:35 left in the period. But the two whistles that followed cost Yale. One apparent Bulldog goal was waved off when the officials blew the whistle after losing sight of the puck in the crowded crease. With 1:40 left in the period, the Bulldogs appeared to tip another one past Harvard netminder Brittany Martin (44 saves), but this one was waved off because Yale was called for high-sticking.

After the Yale 5-on-3 ended, a cross-checking penalty on the Bulldogs with 27 seconds left gave Harvard a power play that wrapped over to the second period. Gilbride intercepted a pass into the slot and cleared the puck to help Yale finish off that penalty kill, and the Bulldogs quickly resumed their offensive pressure. Martin denied Jenna Spring on a 2-on-1 with Kristin Savard, and after a pile of players crashed into the net Harvard was called for obstruction-hooking. Spring sent one just over the net on that power play.

The Crimson got a man advantage of their own three minutes in, but Ann-Renee Guillemette sticked away one Harvard pass and Love covered up the puck shortly thereafter. The Bulldogs later had a shorthanded chance from Crysti Howser but could not get the puck past Martin.

As Love made a pretty kick save on Lindsay Weaver in the slot, the Bulldogs were called for body checking and the Crimson quickly took advantage. Jenny Brine found Jennifer Raimondi wide open to Love's left with a nifty pass, and Raimondi knocked it home at 6:48 to give the Crimson a 1-0 lead.

Two minutes later, Harvard was called for hooking Howser and then was hit with an interference call on top of that to give Yale another 5-on-3, this one for 1:38. Martin made a spectacular stop to deny a Howser backhander at the 10-minute mark. After a cross-checking penalty on Harvard later in the period the Bulldogs dropped to 0-for-7 on the power play.

"[Martin] was making great saves," Yale head coach Hilary Witt said. "Give all the credit in the world to her. I thought we moved the puck pretty well and had some good opportunities but we just couldn't finish."

Yale remained patient, however, and after Sarah Wilson body-checked Sheila Zingler in the neutral zone the Bulldogs finally broke through. Westfal took a pass from Savard and wristed it through traffic and into the net to tie the score at the 14:06 mark.

The goal was an appropriate reward for Westfal, normally a forward but pressed into service this weekend on Yale's depleted defense. Replacing Yale's most experienced defender, Nina Resor, she made an immediate impression.

"To play Dartmouth and Harvard on the road as your first time playing defense in college is a little nerve-racking," Witt said. "Maggie handled it like a pro. She did a great job. I thought she was one of our top D this weekend."

Love stonewalled a flurry of Harvard shots right after that, then made a pad save on a blast by Jessica MacKenzie in the waning minutes of the period.

The third period featured no penalties and lots of back-and-forth action. Four minutes in Howser deflected a feed from Spring just wide. Midway through Love left a rebound in the slot but made a lunging poke-check to send the puck out of Harvard's reach. Martin stopped a pair of chances for Sarah Tittman a minute later. Love denied a wrister by Sarah Wilson in the slot with 6:30 left in the game, and Zingler rifled one just wide down at the other end of the ice moments later.

Deena Caplette slid a backhander wide in the waning seconds of regulation and the two teams headed to overtime. Martin stopped a Jenna Spring wraparound attempt a minute and a half in, but the Bulldogs kept up the pressure. Kristin Savard took the puck in from the corner to Martin's right for a shot that was stopped with two minutes to play, and Martin also denied another chance for Spring in the slot a minute later.

That led into the final frustration for the Bulldogs, as yet another Yale goal was waved off with 50 seconds to play when the officials lost sight of the puck in the crease.

Harvard was able to get a faceoff in the Yale zone with 22 seconds to play and called a timeout, but was unable to get a shot off as the game came to an end.

Love has now stopped 96 of the last 97 shots she has faced over three games. Combined with a rapidly maturing defense, she helped the Bulldogs grab a win and a tie on a challenging road trip. Yale's 1-0 win over Dartmouth Friday night was the team's first win against the Big Green in 20 years. Yale's last non-loss against Harvard at the Bright Center was a 4-2 victory Feb. 28, 1981.

"To come out of the weekend with three points with only two goals is a nice thing," Witt said. "I think that's a tribute to our goaltending and our overall improved defensive play. We're more poised in front of the net when the puck's bouncing around."

Yale returns to action next Friday at Ingalls Rink (7 p.m.) against Union.

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

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