Though most hockey fans stand by the adage, “the best defense is a good offense,” the women’s ice hockey team proved this past weekend that sometimes, defense itself is the best defense.
Goaltender Ansley LaHue ’10 led the Bulldogs (5-5, 3-4 ECACHL) to a 3-1 victory over the Northeastern Huskies (2-11-1) on Saturday at Matthews Arena. The game was LaHue’s first collegiate start, relieving regular starting goalie Shivon Zilis ’08.
“LaHue earned the opportunity [to start],” head coach Hilary Witt said. “Zilis is doing a good job, but it’s a long season, and she’s going to need a break every once in a while. LaHue is a very good and capable goalie, and she proved that [Saturday].”
The win broke a string of two painful losses the previous weekend, when the Bulldogs fell 4-3 to Dartmouth on Nov. 17 and then 5-1 to Harvard the following day.
LaHue played briefly in the season’s earlier matchup against Princeton and in the preseason exhibition game against McGill. Saturday’s game was her first regular season start, and after she saved 17 of the Huskies’ attempted 18 shots, it became her first career win as well.
“I wasn’t nervous [before the game],” LaHue said. “I went into the game expecting to play well. I knew I could play at this level, and it was just a matter of getting the opportunity.”
The Elis took control of the scoreboard late into the first period, when forward Sheila Zingler ’07, assisted by forward Crysti Howser ’09, scored the first goal of the game on a power play with 1:41 left in the period. The score did not change again until 15:33 into the third period, when forward Jenna Spring ’07 made it 2-0 Yale. She was also assisted by Howser, who stole the puck and passed it from behind the net.
LaHue was 4:09 away from making the game a shutout when the Huskies scored their first and only goal of the game 28 seconds after Spring opened the two-goal gap.
“I really wanted the shutout because [we] worked so hard throughout the game, and it’s sad we couldn’t pull through in those last five minutes,” LaHue said. “But the win was more important, and we got that so I was really pleased.”
Howser proved her offensive prowess once more with only seven seconds left to play, scoring an unassisted open-net goal from center ice.
Penalties also had a regrettably large presence in the Bulldogs’ game play on Saturday, forward Christina Sharun ’07 said.
“We spent too much time in the penalty box,” she said. “It is something we desperately need to cut down on as a team.”
But the Huskies went 0-for-8 in their power play attempts, and their lone goal was scored with both teams at equal strength. LaHue attributes the Bulldogs’ success to a strong penalty-killing squad.
“Denise, Koz [Danielle Kozlowski ’09], Savard, Zingler and Helen really anchor the unit,” she said. “They are so aggressive that Northeastern didn’t have the chance to set their power play up, and they made my job so much easier by sending any rebounds in the corners the whole length of the ice.”
Witt said some of the penalties were due to mental mistakes, and though they were successful in killing the penalties, they made things more difficult than they had to be.
“We didn’t play our best,” she said. “We were a little slow, but ultimately, we found a way to win, and that’s the most important thing.”