March 3, 2006

Three Goals in Third Help No. 2 Saints Win Game One, 6-3

March 3, 2006

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CANTON, N.Y. - No. 2 St. Lawrence scored three goals in the third period en route to a 6-3 win over Yale in game one of the teams' ECACHL quarterfinal series Friday afternoon at Appleton Arena. The Saints, the top seed in the playoffs, got two goals each from Emilie Berlinguette and Kate Michael to help avoid the upset bid by the eighth-seeded Bulldogs.

The first period was a wild one, considering that two of the best goaltenders in the conference were involved. The Bulldogs scored 45 seconds in off a faceoff when Nina Resor sent a shot on net and Saints netminder Meaghan Guckian left the rebound off to her right. Kelsey Johnson was perfectly positioned to gather the puck and backhand it in for the 1-0 lead.

"It was exciting," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "But I didn't get overly excited, because I knew that there was a lot more time to go in the game."

The Saints power play, ranked second in the country, got its chance to respond a minute later. Yale goalie Sarah Love stopped an Annie Guay blast from the point, then denied Kerri Wallace. Michael finally solved her at the 2:04 mark to tie the score at one.

A minute later the Saints struck again, as Guay rocketed one past Love's right shoulder.

On a faceoff at 4:44, the Bulldogs pulled Love (two saves) for Shivon Zilis. Zilis immediately gloved a Tracy Muzerall shot, but at 6:34 Berlinguette slid one through to increase the Saints lead to 3-1.

Guckian denied Lisa Jacque during a 2-on-1 rush for the Bulldogs midway through the period, but a penalty on the Saints allowed the Bulldogs to creep closer. First, St. Lawrence generated an odd-man rush and appeared set for a short-handed chance. But Sheila Zingler reached out and got her stick on a Saints pass in the Yale zone, tipping it out toward center ice. The Bulldogs gathered it up there, enabling Deena Caplette to put a shot on net and then grab her own rebound for a goal 9:19 in that got Yale within 3-2.

Zilis faced a major test when the Bulldogs took another penalty with eight minutes left in the period. She stopped two bullets from Guay, then a wrister by Kate Michael, before a faceoff win by Crysti Howser enabled Caplette to clear the puck and kill the penalty.

Special teams led to the next great scoring chance, as Howser forced Abbie Bullard into a tripping penalty 4:23 before the first intermission. Maggie Westfal's shot from the blueline hit the crossbar and bounced out, denying Yale what momentarily appeared to be the game-tying goal.

The second period was a dramatic reversal from the goal-filled first. Zilis immediately established that she was on her game with a kick save on Alison Domenico 30 seconds in. Three minutes later a turnover gave Crystal Connors a golden chance to let one fly, but Zilis smothered that one.

Zilis came up with another gem midway through the period, sticking aside a drive by Abbie Bullard through traffic. She then snatched a wrister by Domenico from the left circle.

After a series of Zilis saves right near the end of the period the Bulldogs were whistled with 1:21 left before intermission. Zilis denied a Wallace slap shot from the right circle before Carry Resor executed a beautiful clear, faking the Saints back toward one side of the ice before spinning around and send the puck up the boards and out.

Howser then got her stick on a dangerous puck in the slot and sent it down to the other end of the ice to keep the Saints off the board. Zilis finished with 14 saves for the period, while Guckian had 12.

"I thought Shivon did a great job," Witt said. "She came in, settled everything down, and the kids got confident again."

The Bulldogs killed off the rest of the penalty and had a power play of their own as the third period got underway, but were unable to score. The game turned when Crystal Connors controlled the puck behind the Yale net, curling around and sending the puck in front. Berlinguette was able to stick it in at 5:16, giving the Saints a two-goal lead.

Midway through the third, the Bulldogs were hurt by two penalties in a span of 45 seconds that limited their ability to generate offense. Frustratingly, the Bulldogs had killed off the 5-on-3 and were just back at even strength when Carson Duggan grabbed a rebound of a Guay shot and put it in at 10:01.

Trailing 6-2, the Bulldogs battled until the end. Christina Sharun whistled one just wide with nine minutes remaining, and even on a penalty kill with five minutes to play Yale kept up the offensive attack. Howser stole the puck at center ice and raced in on a breakaway, but she controlled the puck only enough to backhand one just wide.

Zilis made a nice save on an Abbie Bullard slap shot with 4:28 to play, but a minute later the Saints power play again clicked, as Michael wristed one in for a 6-2 lead.

The Bulldogs kept fighting, as Howser tipped Kristen Stupay's shot past Guckian with 44 seconds left in the game to get the score to 6-3. No ECACHL No. 8 seed had ever scored three goals against a No. 1 in a playoff game before.

Yale drew a penalty on the Saints with 22 seconds remaining, but Spring and Zingler sent shots wide.

"We worked really hard and did a lot of great things," said Witt.

Zilis finished with 34 saves, while Guckian had 30.

The teams play game two of the best-of-three series Saturday at 2 p.m. at Appleton Arena.

report by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity

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