By David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery]
NEW HAVEN, CT- After victories the night before, the UConn Huskies and Yale Bulldogs would be opposing each other for the Nutmeg Classic crown. It would be on Yale’s home turf of Ingalls Rink, but due to the thanksgiving holiday, very few Yale fans were in attendance leading to the UConn fans outnumbering the Bulldog faithful in the house that night. The Huskies would hold their hosts to one goal while scoring six of their own on the way to the championship.
In goal for the Huskies was Jennie Bellonio and for Yale, Jackie Snikeris. Bellonio would face 22 shots on the night and one got past her, Snikeris faced 30 and saved 24.
Connecticut picked up some chances early with shots from Jennifer Chaisson among others During a scrum in front of the net Maude Blain found herself on the opposite side as the goalie but Snikeris came up with the save on her anyway. The two sides continued to go at it and by the 7 minute mark Yale had 2 shots and Connecticut technically only 0 though they had been near the net plenty of times. Bray Ketchum took a shot but it was saved, and the Bulldogs picked up a penalty when Samantha MacLean was called for tripping at 8:11.
UConn struck and Jody Sydor shot the puck from back near the blue line to the left of Snikeris at 8:39 assisted by Binning and Horan for the power play score. Lisa Stathopulos stick handled in soon afterward but to no avail. At 9:35 though Sydor sent the puck on net again from even farther back and it ricocheted off Stathopulos and into the net for a 2-0 lead. Yale had also evened the shot total at 3-3 by the half way mark in the period.
Brittany Murphy was called for hooking at 11:07 but the Yale power play was short lived as a too many men on the ice penalty put Berit Johnson in the box as well at 11:49. Connecticut’s short power play was also killed and 5 on 5 action returned soon afterward. Chaisson stick handled in point blank but was denied, and a great save by Snikeris later prevented another goal however Connecticut pressure kept up and Chaisson got it in at 15:28 assisted by Evelyn and Murphy.
Amy Hollstein was called for checking at 16:58 giving Yale another power play, but no goals resulted and Michelle Binning even had a short handed try. The period came to a close with UConn up 3 to 0 and having 9 shots to Yale’s 6.
When play resumed the back and forth continued. Danielle Moncion passed it to Caroline Murphy but Bellonio’s great saved stopped the goal. UConn started poking around the net as well, but could not get it past the keeper. Yale went on the attack in the UConn zone as well but more saves followed.
Murphy’s wrist shot brought a play stoppage 7 minutes in when Snikeris covered it rather than leave it to play. At this point the Huskies had a 13 to 9 shot advantage as well as the scoreboard in favor. Aleca Hughes and Alyssa Zupon went in on the attack for the Bulldogs but came up empty as well. Natalie Wedell tried but could not get a goal either. Monique Weber came up with two attempts on the Yale tender but both didn’t find the net.
Jamie Gray was called for checking at 10:07 and put in the box. During the power play Stathopulos’s shot flew off the glove of Snikeris and into the air, but no goal resulted. Casey Knajdek was called at 10:40 ending the power play. Ketchum stick handled in but could not get it into the net. For UConn, a hard slap shot was saved as well. Yale had a brief power play, and Moncion moved it in, but Weber eventually dived to clear the puck out of the zone. Hughes, and others gave it a go putting a lot of pressure on the Huskies albeit with the penalty over. Ketchum also sent a shot hard over the net. At 16:18 Rebecca Hewett went in the box for the Huskies giving Yale another power play and they used it with Hughes getting it past Bellonio assisted by Ketchum and Zupon at 17:03 to cut the lead to 3-1 UConn.
Two minutes later at 19:08 Binning got a centering pass in front of the net and knocked it to the right of the Yale keeper assisted by Horan. In the closing seconds of the period Amy Hollstein was called for checking and would start period 3 in the box. The 2nd frame wrapped up with a score of 4 to 1, Connecticut also held a shot advantage of 20 to 14.
Yale opened period 3 on the power play but could not score and the two teams continued to battle back and forth. At the five minute mark Yale had added several shots on goal but was still behind by 3. Kelly Horan and other Huskies got in on the attempts as well, but neither team scored and Yale called a time out halfway through the period. When play resumed Yale gave it a go, but could not score, and at 8:54 Hughes went into the penalty box for tripping. Yale worked on killing the penalty and a Bulldog’s attempt to clear the puck sent a rocket into her own bench leading to much ducking.
UConn didn’t let the opportunity pass though and Chaisson put in a rebound of a shot at 10:48 with assists from Murphy and Horan. The Huskies kept up their attacks up 5-1 adding shots to the mix, for Yale Murphy sent in a shot but Bellonio took care of it. The back and forth continued with each side getting chances. At 17:23 the final nail to the coffin was added when Jen Matichuk went to the box for checking. The Huskies added an onslaught of shots, most were saved, but Evelyn launched one, and Weber banked it into the net at 18:01. Hewett also picked up an assist. Play would soon wrap up with a UConn 6 to 1 victory, 30 shots for the Huskies, 22 for the Bulldogs.
Just a note. While the report does focus on offense a lot, it is due to the difficulty of tracking key defensive plays as easier as offensive opportunities in a fast paced game. The defense’s role is critical it’s just harder to keep track of. These reports reflect the best I can do to keep up with the numerous things going on in a hockey game.