March 9, 2005
After setting the school record for wins and winning a playoff game and series for the first time in school history, Yale finds itself with another mountain to climb Saturday at 1 p.m. in the ECACHL semifinals: a meeting with No. 5 Harvard. On paper this is a David-vs.-Goliath matchup, as the Crimson (22-6-3, 17-1-2 ECACHL) has not lost in three months, has outscored its opponents 141-57, and has one player (Nicole Corriero, 52) with more goals than Yale's top five scorers combined. If the Bulldogs (16-14-1, 12-7-1 ECACHL) pull off the upset, they will face the winner of the Dartmouth-St. Lawrence matchup for the ECACHL Championship on Sunday at 2 p.m. (televised locally by CN8) with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line.
While Yale can't match Harvard's 17-game unbeaten streak (15-0-2, last loss 2-1 at New Hampshire Dec. 11), the Bulldogs have been playing some of their best hockey of late. Their emotional two-game sweep of Princeton in the ECACHL quarterfinals gave them six wins in their last eight games, and one of those losses was by only a goal at No. 4 Dartmouth (who plays No. 6 St. Lawrence in the other semifinal game).
BULLDOGS TAKE ECACHL QUARTERFINAL VS. PRINCETON
Yale beat Princeton 4-3 in overtime Friday and 4-2 on Saturday to win their ECACHL quarterfinal series two games to none. The first game was an epic battle that saw Yale twice rally from one-goal deficits in front of a large contingent of fans on hand for the first-ever playoff game at Ingalls Rink. Freshman defenseman Helen Resor (Greenwich, Conn.) put the Bulldogs up by one with a goal 3:31 in, but the Tigers responded with two of their own later in the first. After junior forward Natalie Babony (Whitby, Ont.) tied the score at 3:38 of the second, Princeton went back ahead near the end of the second to set up the dramatic third. With 5:34 to play, a scrum in front of the Princeton net led to a Tiger defender covering up the puck in the crease - a delay of game call and a penalty shot for Yale. After a timeout, Yale head coach Hilary Witt tabbed the freshman Resor to take what was shaping up to be the most important shot of Yale's season, and maybe even history. She executed a perfect fake to get Princeton goaltender Roxanne Gaudiel down on the ice, then lifted a backhander into the net to knot the score. Junior goaltender Sarah Love (Bayfield, Ont.) made six of her 33 saves in overtime before junior forward Deena Caplette (Winnipeg, Man.) backhanded in the game-winner at the 15:22 mark. Saturday's game was 1-0 Yale on a second-period goal by sophomore forward Kristin Savard (Framingham, Mass.) until a wild third period that was filled with 18 of the game's 30 penalties. After Princeton tied the score at 1:14, senior forward Nicole Symington (Burlington, Ont.) put Yale back on top at 1:58. Sophomore forward Sheila Zingler (Wausau, Wisc.) upped the lead to two at 15:13 but Princeton scored just seven seconds later. Zingler finally put the game out of reach with an empty-netter at 18:25, and Love finished with 30 saves.
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Nicole Corriero, whose 52 goals are an NCAA record, headlines the impressive Crimson offense that also includes likely ECACHL Rookie of the Year Sarah Vaillancourt (19-38-57), U.S. Olympian Julie Chu (12-45-57) and the top point-scoring defenseman in the league in Ashley Banfield (9-30-39). Chu and Corriero are both finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award. Ali Boe (18-5-2, .907, 1.87) anchors a defense that ranks sixth in the country, allowing only 1.84 goals per game. One Crimson stat that Yale is glad it won't have to hear entering Saturday is 41. That's what Harvard's winning streak in the series would have been at right now had Yale not won 3-2 last November at Ingalls Rink for its first victory over Harvard since Nov. 18, 1984. Harvard responded with an 11-2 win at the Bright Hockey Center in January. Overall the Crimson leads the series 48-7-1.
With Yale's long losing streak to Harvard ending earlier this season, Dartmouth (25-5-0, 16-4-0 ECACHL) now has the longest run of wins over the Elis. The Big Green's 3-2 win in Hanover Feb. 18 extended the string to 37 and its overall record in the series to 53-3-1. Dartmouth also had a 9-1 win at Ingalls Rink Nov. 6. Yale has not beaten Dartmouth since Feb. 1, 1986. Kazmaier Award finalist Cherie Piper leads the Big Green in scoring (20-35-55), followed closely by Katie Weatherston (36-13-49), who had four goals in the 9-1 game. Christine Capuano (11-1-0, .911, 1.75) and Kate Lane (14-4-0, .908, 2.22) have split time in net.
SCOUTING ST. LAWRENCE
While Dartmouth has the longest active winning streak against Yale, St. Lawrence (26-6-5, 14-3-3 ECACHL) can claim another mark: the Saints have never lost to the Bulldogs. Only a 3-3 tie on Feb. 12, 1999 has broken up a string of St. Lawrence victories dating back to the team's days as a Division III program. The overall series favors St. Lawrence 22-0-1, and the Saints have won 12 in a row since the 1999 tie. This season the Bulldogs nearly ended the run Jan. 8, grabbing a 2-0 first-period lead, but St. Lawrence rallied to win 4-3. The Saints then won 3-0 in New Haven Feb. 4. Kazmaier Award finalist Rebecca Russell, who had two key goals in the comeback win, leads the Saints in scoring (28-35-63) and is second in the league. Jess Moffat, who is second in the conference in save percentage (.929), just earned ECACHL Goalie of the Week honors by stopping 61 of 63 shots in the Saints' 2-1 series win over Brown in the quarterfinals. Meghan Guckian has also seen extensive time in net and is fifth in the conference in save percentage (.922).
CAPTAIN Erin Duggan
Senior defenseman Erin Duggan (Beaumont, Alb.), Yale's captain, leads all ECACHL blueliners in goals this season with 11. She has been named second team All-Ivy and ECACHL All-Academic. Her weekly honors include honorable mention USCHO.com/ITECH Offensive Player of the Week (Jan. 17 after scoring four goals in a two-game set at Ohio State). Last season she was honorable mention All-ECACHL and honorable mention All-Ivy League, winning Yale's Bingham Award for leadership. She is currently second on Yale's all-time assist list (60), third on Yale's all-time points list (96), and seventh on Yale's all-time goals list (36).
GOALTENDER Sarah Love
Junior goaltender Sarah Love (Bayfield, Ont.) has won five of her last six (including two shutouts), stopping 165 of 177 shots (.932) and posting a 1.65 goal-against average. She has broken her own school record with 14 victories this season, and also holds the school single-season records for save percentage (.931, 2003-04) and goals-against average (2.25, 2003-04). Some of the best outings of her career have come against Harvard, Yale's semifinal opponent, including a 48-save effort Nov. 12 at Ingalls Rink in Yale's 3-2 win. Love had 45 saves in a 1-0 loss at Harvard last season, as the Crimson scored the game-winning goal on a power play with seven seconds left.
HEAD COACH Hilary Witt
In her third season as Yale's head coach, Hilary Witt has overseen a remarkable turnaround. She is already Yale's all-time leader in wins with 37 entering the weekend, having broken Tyler Benson's mark (33) with the Bulldogs' 3-0 win at Vermont Feb. 19. The 37-win total is more than Yale had in the seven seasons prior to Witt taking over combined. Witt was an assistant coach with Yale before being named head coach, She was named ECACHL Coach of the Year in her first year, 2002-03, after leading Yale to what was then a school-best 5-11-0 mark in the conference. The Bulldogs have broken the school record for conference wins in each season Witt has been here. After tying the mark for overall wins in a season last year with 12 (tied with 1985-86), this year's squad has shattered that mark and has 16 entering the ECACHL semifinals. Yale's two playoff victories under Witt last weekend marked another first for the program. A Canton, Mass. native, Witt graduated from Northeastern in 2001 as the school's all-time leader in goals and points (113-94-207) and spent time with the U.S. Women's National Team.
Junior forward Deena Caplette (Winnipeg, Man.) had the game-winner at 15:22 of overtime on Friday as part of her three-point weekend, and she now has a six-game point-scoring streak. Caplette and her linemates, sophomore forward Kristin Savard (Framingham, Mass.) and sophomore forward Sheila Zingler (Wausau, Wisc.) have combined for 10 goals and 10 assists over the last six games. Zingler had two tallies in Yale's 4-2 win over Princeton in the ECACHL quarterfinals on Mar. 5 - her 20th birthday.
Yale's cousin combination of Helen Resor (Greenwich, Conn.) and Nina Resor (Westwood, Mass.) has proven to be one of the keys to the season. Helen, a freshman, missed the first eight games and Nina, a sophomore, was injured early in the Dec. 7 game against Mercyhurst and did not return until Jan. 28 at Brown. In the 15 games that both Resors have been fully healthy, Yale is 10-4-1. In the 16 games that one was out, Yale went 6-10-0. Helen Resor was named ECACHL Rookie of the Week for her work in the quarterfinal series vs. Princeton, scoring two goals (including the game-tying goal on a penalty shot with 5:34 to play Friday) and adding two assists. Helen Resor, the sister of former Bulldog Jane Resor '01, now has six goals in the last eight games.
The Bulldogs will depart for Schenectady following their 4 p.m. practice Thursday night. They are scheduled for a skatearound at Messa Rink Friday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., and later that night will attend the Championship Banquet, where the ECACHL All-League teams will be announced. There will be a post-banquet reception for fans at the Holiday Inn-Holidome from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs plan on having a bus for fans coming up on Saturday along with the Yale Precision Marching Band. Fans should call Greg Brinn at (203) 432-3344 for info on the bus.