NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Sophomore goaltender Kyra O'Brien of the Yale women's ice hockey team picked a great time to earn her first career shutout, blanking Dartmouth 3-0 Friday night at Ingalls Rink. Two crucial ECAC Hockey points were at stake, and the win helped the Bulldogs extend their lead on the Big Green in the conference standings.
Yale (6-11-3, 4-8-1 ECAC Hockey) entered the night in eighth place, just one point ahead of ninth-place Dartmouth and Harvard. A loss would thus have dropped the Bulldogs at least temporarily out of the playoff picture, as only the top eight teams make the postseason. With only four weekends of the regular season left after this one, time to make a move in the standings is starting to run out.
O'Brien was making just her fourth career start, and had played in only one game since Nov. 19. Her 25 saves Friday came on the heels of a solid two-period effort in relief last weekend.
"She played well the last two periods in our last game, and had a good week of practice," said Joakim Flygh, Yale's Susan Cavanagh Head Coach of Women's Ice Hockey. "We wanted to give her a shot."
The Bulldogs enjoyed a 12-9 shot advantage in the first period, but it looked like they would nonetheless be held off the scoreboard -- until the final moments. Sophomore forward Jordan Chancellor intercepted an attempt to clear along the left boards, then skated the puck low before firing a pass that made it through traffic in the slot, deflecting off a Dartmouth player to junior defenseman Mallory Souliotis wide-open in the right circle. She sniped one top shelf on Dartmouth goalie Robyn Chemago to put Yale up 1-0 with 11.9 seconds left in the period.
"We felt we were gaining momentum, and you want to capitalize on that," said Flygh of the last-minute goal.
O'Brien finished the first with nine saves, sticking aside a shot by forward Mackenzie St. Onge during a 2-on-1 with less than five minutes to play.
The scoreless second period saw Yale get the best chance. With less than a minute to play, a delayed penalty on Dartmouth enabled the Bulldogs to get an extra skater on the ice. Senior defenseman Taylor Marchin ripped a shot that was blocked in front, and junior forward Kaitlin Gately sent a follow-up shot just over the net. The Yale lead remained 1-0 heading into the third.
The Bulldogs got a much-needed insurance goal shortly after killing off a penalty early in the third. Marchin sent the puck across to sophomore defenseman Julia Yetman at the left point, and her shot was deflected in Chemago's five-hole by junior forward Eden Murray at 7:48 to make it 2-0 Yale.
"That's one of the things we have been stressing -- getting traffic in front of the net," said Flygh. "That was a great tip by Eden. Goalies can't stop that."
Dartmouth (5-14-0, 3-10-0 ECAC Hockey) had one last chance to get on the board, earning a power play with 5:05 left. But O'Brien stopped a pair of shots and helped seal the win. Chancellor scored on an empty net, assisted by Marchin, with 41 seconds remaining to make the final 3-0.
Yale hosts Harvard Saturday at 3:00 p.m. In addition to Alumnae Day festivities, the team will hold its annual "White Out for Mandi". This game is held in memory of Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011). Mandi's courageous battle with cancer inspired people to join the Be The Match Registry® in her honor, helping save the lives of patients in need of marrow transplants. Yale's annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive, which has located at least 30 donor matches for patients with life-threatening illnesses, will be held April 20 at The Schwarzman Center. This Saturday's game is a fundraiser for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation. There is no admission charge, and the team is selling special white shirts in an attempt to "white out" Ingalls Rink. There will also be raffle items.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org, Yale Sports Publicity)