By David F. Pendrys [Editor’s Note: This post will be broken up into smaller ones for each game if time permits. More information will also be added when possible.] A faster loading version with less media is here.
STORRS, CT – In an outright unreal Nutmeg Classic women’s hockey tournament Friday, and Saturday, none of the participants lost a game officially, and placement was determined by shootouts in every game where it was necessary. The Quinnipiac Bobcats used shootout victories over Yale and host UConn to win the Nutmeg Classic cup. In an additional twist, Kenzie Lancaster had the shootout winning goal both nights. QU had fought to a 3-3 tie with a hungry Yale team on Friday, and on Saturday came back a 2-0 deficit thanks to goals from Melissa Samoskevich and Raquel Pennoyer to tie UConn in the third period to lead to the resulting overtime and shootout. Sarah-Eve Coutu-Godbout scored twice, and Kati Tabin picked up a power play goal in the tie with Yale the night before.
“It’s so amazing for our team.” Quinnipiac Head Coach Cassandra Turner said. “Especially the way the game went yesterday and the game went today. It was the opposite. We were ahead yesterday and gave up the lead, and today we were behind then we came back…it certainly felt like a win, especially to get the win in the shootout. It was a great effort for our team. Outstanding in the third period for us to have I think 14 to 2 [shots].”
UConn came away with the second place finish after Natalie Snodgrass advanced the Huskies to the final with the shootout winner over Penn State on Friday. Snodgrass also tallied both UConn regulation goals in the game versus QU. Theresa Knutson had found the back of the net on a penalty shot to result in a 1-1 tie versus PSU.
“We’re looking to play a certain way. Any time, any game that we’re playing,” UConn Head Coach Chris MacKenzie said. “I’m sure that for anyone watching that game, it was entertaining…we got off to a good start in the first. You gotta give Quinnipiac credit to claw back in the third. They had a little more poise with the puck in the third then we did. If you take away that minute and a half where they scored two, maybe we’re the one’s hoisting the trophy. It’s not meant to be right now, but I’m proud of my team, proud of the effort. Really really think we left it on the ice. This is a good weekend to build on going into Providence next weekend.”
Penn State picked up their sixth and seventh tie after playing UConn to 1-1 on Friday, and Yale to a 2-2 result on Saturday. Katie McMillan had the lone Nittany Lions goal on Friday and Natalie Heising scored on a Power Play. Bella Sutton tied the game with Yale up with two minutes left in the game to earn the opportunity for the tie.
Yale came away with the hard thought tie versus QU after two goals from Greta Skarzynski and one from Emma Vlasic. Vlasic would pick up two more goals versus PSU. Their win against the highly ranked Quinnipiac was a key one for a team that has struggled to find wins or ties, this season so far despite playing some ranked teams very hard.
Game 1 Yale v. Quinnipiac [Official Box Score from QU Athletics]
The familiar foes who sit mere miles from each other, often meet during the season and in the Nutmeg tournament. Their latest contest was arguably one of Yale’s best performances as they came back to tie the game down 3-1 in the third. The Bulldogs, who have been smoked by fast offenses before, did not let that happen versus the swift Bobcats. QU went into the game without Samoskevich but Coutu-Godbout stepped up. Coutu-Godbout swept into the Yale zone to the left of Yale’s Tera Hofmann and despite getting shadowed by the Yale defense was able to flick it past the keeper. Abby Cleary and Kate MacKenzie picked up Assists on the opening tally.
Yale First Year Skarzynski responded a few minutes later. Vlasic collected the puck in front of QU’s Abbie Ives and shot it. The QU keeper saved it, but it bounced to Skarzynski right on the doorstep to her left. She sent it into the wide swath of net she had available . Vlasic naturally picked up the assist.
Coutu-Godbout struck again in the second period assisted by Cleary and Randi Marcon at 6:17. She had ended up with the puck again to Hofmann’s left at close range and again was able to smack it by the Bulldogs netminder.
Very late in the period Kati Tabin notched her first goal of the season assisted by Shannon Cherpak and Lancaster. During the power play, the puck was cycling around and Cherpak fed Tabin at the point for a one timer which she blasted through the screen and in.
“I got a great pass from [Cleary] and I just decided to shoot up top,” Coutu-Godbout said.
Skarzynski again responded for Yale when she and Vlasic skated into the QU zone at high speed. Vlasic sent it over to Skarzynski right in front and she whisked it past Ives at 2:52.
Only seconds later Vlasic took advantage of the momentum swing. Mallory Souliotis was in the center of Quinnipiac zone and she shot it on Ives, the puck bounced off and right to Vlasic who was lurking right to the left of the net. She quickly pushed it in the gap between the keeper and the pole to tie it up.
“I thought they brought a lot of energy in the third, maybe we got surprised about it. I think we should have more stronger than that, and more confident,” Coutu-Godbout said about the period.
The teams would settle nothing in regulation or in the overtime period, resulting in the tie, but to figure out who went to the final the teams resorted to a shootout. Each goaltender made saves in the first round, but Kenzie Prater scored for QU in round two, and Yale picked up a miss. Hofmann however stopped Coutu-Godbout to keep the Bulldogs alive, and Vlasic scored to keep the rounds going.
Lancaster however beat Hofmann,
and Yale could not respond to take the shootout.
“I figured the goalie was coming out far on me, so I’d make a move,” Lancaster explained.
Ives had made 12 saves on the day, and Hofmann stopped 29 QU shots on the day as the Bobcats outshot the Elis 32-15. Julia Yetman led Yale with 3 blocks, Kaitlin Gately, Souliotis, Vlasic, and Saroya Tinker had 2 blocks each. QU’s 6 total blocks came from Mackenzie, Tabin, Barry, Cherpak, Prater, and Brooke Bonsteel.
Coutu-Godbout had 6 shots for QU, Tabin had 5, and a variety of players had 2 apiece. Skarzynski had 5 shots for the Bulldogs, Vlasic had 2, both of which resulted in goals, either her own or Skarzynski’s. Emily Monaghan also had 2.
“We had two pretty good periods of hockey. A lot of scoring chances, we hit the crossbar, and the post. We didn’t come out in the third period ready to win the hockey game,” Turner said at the time. “It’s a lesson for our team. You have to be able to have the same pressure on the puck when you’re up by two as you would if you were down by two, or if it was a tie game, and we certainly need to figure that out from our game today.”
Game 2 Penn State v. UConn [Official Box Score from UConn Athletics]
Penn State scored their only goal in a rare way by picking it up at 19:59 in the first period. Kelsey Crow had teed up a shot from the point, and Katie McMillan was hovering right by the net to put it past UConn’s Annie Belanger.
UConn’s only goal came at 11:59 in the second after Theresa Knutson broke in alone in on net. PSU’s Morgan Rolph took her out on approach and a penalty shot was called for. Knutson skated in and beat PSU’s Hannah Ehresmann to tie it up.
“I just told myself if she’s back in the net, shoot, if she’s out make a move. I just tried to keep it as simple as possible because scoring goals, whatever happens whatever happens,” Knutson said.
No scoring would follow even as PSU put 28 shots on net, and UConn generated 24. Again a shootout would determine who made the final and the two teams set up.
“I think we dominated the majority of the game. Our big goal before the game, was to get below the goal line at least ten times a period. I think we exceeded that. I think our aggressiveness on offense was really good,” Snodgrass said.
Natalie Heising scored for PSU, but Leah Lum responded for UConn with a goal. Each keeper made a save in the next round.
Crow hit metal, but UConn’s next attempt was saved. In the next round Belanger made the save, and Snodgrass beat the keeper to win it.
“The nerves were really going, I’m not going to lie,” Snodgrass admitted. “The goalie was really aggressive for the other girls, so I knew I kinda had to make a move because I didn’t trust my shot.”
“That was a hard fought game. Give Penn State a lot of credit, a really physical team, well disciplined team. Two hard working well disciplined teams playing tonight. They got up with one second left in the first, a little bit deflating. But we really pushed pretty good back in the second, a lot of momentum. Caught a break there…the penalty shot, and Theresa put it away. It was great. It was really just a hotly contested game from there on in,” MacKenzie said.
Speaking the day after about the shootout result, Penn State Head Coach Jeff Kampersal explained his thinking on the shootout and the game result. “I wasn’t too deflated by that, I was deflated probably was deflated by the tie, and that fact that we gave up a breakaway penalty shot. That kind of stuff. We’ve been pretty stingy on defense. We don’t want to give up any easy one, and we gave up an easy one there. ”
Snodgrass had six shots on the night to lead Yale, Knutson had 3, Lum, Taylor Wabick, Morgan Wabick, Kayla Mee, Tristyn Svetek, and Catherine Crawley each had 2. Shea Nelson had 7 shots for PSU, Abby Welch and Meike Meilleur had 3 each, and Brooke Madsen, Crow, Sutton, McMillan, and Katie Rankin all had 2.
Coach MacKenzie had some thoughts on who stood out aside from the goal scorers.
“Annie Belanger, our defense as a whole was real solid. I think anytime you hold a team under 30 shots, you’re pretty happy with that,” MacKenzie answered. “I think Natalie she did well. For me, it’s a total team effort. I was happy with our penalty killers in that one key kill that we had to get. When you’re able to do that, you gain more momentum. I bet it was an exciting game to watch.”
Mee had 5 blocks for UConn which was 1 less than Penn State’s total. Taylor Wabick had 2, and Lum, Rebecca Lindblad, Justine Fredette, Svetek, Jaime Fox, and Briana Colangelo all had 1. Crow, Rolph, Sutton, Rankin, Katie Rydland, and Caileah Forrest had 1 each.
Belanger had another solid game posting 27 saves including numerous ones when PSU was pressuring on the doorstep in period 3. Ehresmann had 23 saves on the day.
Game 3 Yale v. Penn State [Official Box Score from Yale Athletics]
In the “consolation” game two teams which hadn’t lost took on each other and the tie resulted. As the result did not affect tournament placement, no shootout followed the overtime. While Yale and PSU will not often meet, PSU Coach Jeff Kampersal knows plenty about ECAC hockey from his time at Princeton.
Vlasic put Yale up early with a goal at 1:40 assisted by Skarzynski. Vlasic had sent a puck flying from Ehresmann’s left and it bounced around and landed in the net.
No one else would score in the frame and it wasn’t until 6:55 of the second that Vlasic again scored on the power play assisted by Skarzynski & Souliotis. After Souliotis sent it to Skarzynski back in the zone she launched a shot on goal. It bounced off the keeper and right to Vlasic who at her left, and she put it home.
Yale’s 2-0 lead disappeared twenty minutes later when Natalie Heising took advantage of one of their many power plays to score assisted by Brooke Madsen and Bella Sutton. The puck had been rotating around the zone, but Heising shot it from a sharp right angle to Yale’s Gianna Meloni and it found it’s way by her.
The Bulldogs still held off Penn State for most of the third period, but Sutton earned the equalizer at 18:09 just after a Yale power play expired. PSU was still in the power play formation and Sutton was directing it from near the blue line. The puck came to her and unleashed it on net. It flew through the screen five hole and that was that for the scoring.
“Some of our freshmen, are a little inconsistent,” Kampersal said. “But in terms of getting points and what not for us they’re the ones who are getting it done for us right now. They stepped up on the power play twice tonight for us.”
Penn State sent 38 shots in on Yale’s Meloni and she saved 36 of them. Yale mustered only 18 shots and Ehresmann saved 16.
Vlasic led Yale with 3 shots (netting 2), Kara Drexler, Skarzynski, Courtney Pensavalle, Sophie Veronneau, and Tinker all had 2 apiece. Madsen had 8 shots for PSU, Crow had 6, Sutton 6, Heising 5, Rankin and Meilleur had 3.
Yetman had 4 blocks for Yale, Drexler and Tinker each had 3, Gately had 2 and Laura Anderson, Jordan Chancellor, and Skarzynski had 1 each. Crow blocked 3 shots for PSU and Madsen, McMillan, and Rydland all had 1.
“Kelsey Crow…she’s just a dominant consistent force. She logs a ton of minutes. You just know you can count on her,” Kampersal noted in the post game section.
Yale had taken 7 penalties on the day giving PSU 14 minutes of potential power play time to work with . Two late Bulldogs penalties resulted in not only the game tying goal, but also put them on the kill during a minute and a half of overtime.
“For this week I think we played great against Cornell. We had a great 65 minute effort. Against UConn yesterday I thought we played hard for forty minutes. Today, our first period was not great,” Kampersal said. “A fluke goal got in there, and we didn’t react well. We were kind of flat and then we had a good talk in between the second and third period and they came out with more little bit more hunger and desire. The team definitely has a lot of heart and soul. I love them for that. They work hard, they don’t give up. This is our eighth tie which is kind of crazy. I think we played in ten overtime games out of seventeen so we’re just kind of rolling with what we’ve got right now and trying to get better.”
Game 4 Quinnipiac v. UConn [Official Box Score from UConn Athletics]
The Final match up perhaps was UConn what would have liked as hosts. They were in the final versus the highest ranked opponent and a local rival at that. The result however went QU’s way tournament-wise.
The Huskies scored first thanks to Taylor Wabick rocketing into the zone with Snodgrass. She sent a puck across past a diving QU defender to the stick of her teammate and Snodgrass beat Ives at 9:33.
A few minutes later a scrum unfolded in front of Ives. Bodies were flying, Lum and Colangelo were fighting with Bobcats for the puck and it bounced out to Snodgrass prowling above the fray. She flipped the shot into the upper corner of the net as Ives stretched a desperate glove in pursuit but the puck was by her.
“They came out and scored two goals on us quick. I think I just tried to reset my mind, and just settle down and settle into the game, and just start taking it one shot at a time,” Ives said.
The Huskies and QU would go back and forth until period 3 with no further pucks passing the keepers. Samoskevich, who was back in the lineup, broke the shutout with 10 minutes left in regulation assisted by Lancaster. Samoskevich had streaked into the zone and to Belanger’s left. She wristed a shot on the net, and it bounced off, but she then sped to the rebound and smacked it behind the goaltender.
Only a minute and forty seconds later, Raquel Pennoyer tied it up assisted by MacKenzie and Anna Kilponen. Kilponen had launched a slap shot from back in the zone and MacKenzie and Pennoyer got sticks on it to redirect it by Belanger.
“We just need to work harder,” Turner said of what the team had had to do to change the tone from the first two periods. “There were a lot of big areas of the ice where we needed to get on the puck faster…we needed to get pucks on net, and make them uncomfortable. We did everything to make them feel comfortable in the first two periods. So I think we were successful in the third to make them uncomfortable.”
“I think we definitely came out a little slow and throughout the whole next two periods we just talked about playing our hockey, and that goes with a lot of attacking and I think that was a really big part of our game tonight,” Samoskevich explained.
UConn’s Mee explained how the team approached the third.
“Just try to keep it simple, and go back to our original game plan…just really grind it out, and keep the foot on the gas, and don’t really let up on them.”
In a wide open game where only two penalties were called total, both on UConn in the first, the two teams continued to spar all the way through overtime. Both teams held the other off for the tie. On would come the shootout.
“Definitely it’s a mental game,” Grace Markey said about dealing with the fast pace. “They’re going to be on your sticks all the time, and that’s one of our big things with our team is stick on stick so with our speed we can just go and knock them off the puck,” Markey said.
Belanger made the save in round one and the UConn shot missed the mark. In round two QU’s attempt was saved again, and Colangelo scored a ridiculous goal on Ives.
Grace Markey responded to keep the Bobcats alive, and the next Huskies attempted missed.
Lancaster then again stepped up to shoot fourth and buried it. The Huskies were unable to respond and the Nutmeg Classic title was Quinnipiac’s yet again.
“I watched what the other people did, I saw that she was kind of backing up in net, so I took it in and roofed it. I’m happy that I could tie it up for our team so then Kenner [Lancaster] could get up for the win,” Markey said.
Of Lancaster’s two shootout wins Samoskevich was impressed. “It’s absolutely unbelievable. It’s the type of confidence we have in each other. Kenner is definitely a leader and you have to have confidence in your leaders and she definitely pulled it off tonight,” Samoskevich said.
Belanger 32 saves on the 34 she faced, and Ives made 23 on the 25 UConn generated. Ives was awarded the best goalie of the tournament award, though it was a close contest considering how all the goalies participating had good games.
“Abbie was outstanding this weekend,” Turner said. She made some big saves when we needed her to in both games…we’re really impressed with where she is right now.”
Ives explained she didn’t approach the game with familiar Yale and the rare opponent in UConn differently. “The teams are definitely different. The Hockey East teams play a different game. A little more up tempo, a little more open. Less about systems and is more creative. As a goalie I try to approach every game the same way. Just be patient and play my game.”
UConn’s Belanger is their leading member of the goaltending corps, but the Huskies have had success from backups as well. “Being able to trust a goalie and knowing that she’s going to do her job, you’re able to do your job. You don’t have to worry and just keep going,” Mee said.
Pennoyer led Quinnipiac with 6 shots, Tabin had 4, Samoskevich, and Coutu-Godbout had 3 each. Prater, Kilponen, Taylor House, and Renee Saltness had 2 as QU continues to have a variety of offensive options. For UConn, Fredette had 6 shots, Snodgrass 5, Jaime Fox, and Lum had 3, Mee, Taylor Wabick, and Knutson each had 2.
Mee had 3 blocks to lead UConn, Fox had 2, and Lum, Fredette, Taylor Wabick, Svetek, Colangelo, Carley Olivier, and Emily Reid each had 1. Alicia Barry had 4 for QU, Randi Marcon had 2, and MacKenzie, Tabin, House, Lancaster, Cleary, Cherpak, and Coutu-Godbout had 1 apiece.
“We can compete with anyone, we can play with anyone,” MacKenzie said. “Maybe now we have to learn we can get up on people too…learn how to finish it. We have leads in the third and we gotta learn to finish that. There’s a certain way to do it. It takes time, and sometimes it takes getting knocked down and having some challenge. We can get over that hump and really just start to roll and get going.”