The Yale women’s ice hockey team took a big step in its eleventh-hour playoff push Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs (7–11–2, 8–16–3 ECAC) taking took down Brown (1–16–3, 2–22–3), 4–2, in the first of three home games in the next five days. Aleca Hughes ’12 scored two goals, including the clincher in the final seconds, and Jackee Snikeris ’11 made 32 saves, with four or five huge stops in the closing minutes, to propel the Blue and White to the win.
The Bulldogs and Bears played a penalty-filled first period, as both teams committed three violations, including two apiece from Brown’s Erica Farrer and Yale defenseman Samantha MacLean ’11. The Bulldogs had a Grade-A short-handed chance on one of the enusing penalty kills courtesy of Bray Ketchum ’11, who, instead of clearing, opted to skate the length of the ice and ended up sending a shot just wide of Brown netminder Katie Jamieson’s net. But that was the last scoring chance for the Elis in the period, and the teams headed to the first intermission locked in a scoreless tie.
The penalties continued to mount for both sides in the second, as three more Yale transgressions and two for Brown set up several power play chances. Yet the penalty kill units continued to hold. But forward Jenna Ciotti ’14, who has been a scoring machine of late for the Bulldogs, continued at her torrid pace, connecting on a wrister off a feed from forward Jackie Raines ’14 to give Yale a 1–0 lead.
“It’s really nice to see them chipping in,” first-year head coach Joakim Flygh said of the freshmen. “There’s no question that’s big for us.”
The Bulldogs would take that lead to the third frame despite several great chances, including a goal that was waived off. But the chances paid off in the third, as Hughes chased down her own rebound and put it in to double the lead.
Just seconds later, Raines carried the puck into the zone and made a great move to set up another goal and up the Yale lead to three.
Yet Brown came storming right back, as a goal from Laurie Jolin cut the lead to two. Brown’s leading scorer, Alena Polenska, scored another goal just minutes later to put the Bears back within one goal from the Bulldogs, 3–2. The Bears were on the verge of tying the game up as the Elis racked up two penalties in the final three minutes. After killing the first penalty, Brown pulled Jamieson for the second power play to take a 6-on-4 advantage, but Hughes stole the puck and converted the empty-netter to ease Yale’s minds and send the Bulldogs into a crucial weekend with a 4–2 victory.
“We were good on the penalty kill,” Flygh said. “We blocked a lot of shots — our kids really competed out there, and we were able to get two points which is ultimately what matters.”
Those two points are crucial as Yale will head into the weekend just two points out of the eighth and final ECAC Hockey playoff spot. Though the Bulldogs need help from the rest of the conference this weekend, they must first take care of business against Princeton, a team they beat 3–1 earlier this year, and Quinnipiac, who have beaten the Bulldogs twice this season.