Special Teams Shine in 2-2 OT Tie with No. 7 Cornell

Tera Hofmann. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Tera Hofmann. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Behind a standout effort on special teams -- including a 5-on-3 penalty kill in overtime -- the Yale women's ice hockey team earned a 2-2 tie with No. 7 Cornell Friday night at Ingalls Rink. Playing without two of their top three point scorers, the Bulldogs got goals from freshman forward Laura Anderson and junior forward Emily Monaghan to deadlock the Big Red. Freshman goaltender Tera Hofmann made 36 saves as Yale improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven games.

"Usually your kill is only as good as your goaltender," said Joakim Flygh, Yale's Susan Cavanagh Head Coach of Women's Ice Hockey. "I give credit to Tera."

Yale (10-12-4, 8-9-2 ECAC Hockey) was playing without two of its top senior forwards. Phoebe Staenz is with Team Switzerland at the Final Olympic Qualifier, and Krista Yip-Chuck was injured in Yale's previous game. Still, the Bulldog offense held its own against a Cornell team that was sixth in the nation in scoring defense (1.64 goals per game) -- and Yale's special teams units wound up out-playing Cornell's fifth-ranked power play (19.0 percent).

"We played an extremely gutsy game," said Flygh. "Our kids gave everything they had, and we couldn't ask for more. They really battled hard. Over the last 10 games we have improved immensely on defense, and we are starting to play our best hockey."

Yale nearly took the lead thanks to their first power play of the game, but a save by Cornell goalkeeper Paula Voorheis on a shot by Anderson right after the penalty expired kept Yale off the scoreboard.

Cornell (16-6-4, 12-3-4 ECAC Hockey) wound up getting the game's first goal on a rebound. Some nifty moves by defenseman Jaime Bourbonnais through the Yale defense enabled her to backhand a shot on goal that Hofmann stopped, but forward Paige Lewis banged in the loose puck to make it 1-0 at 15:16.

The Big Red tempted fate by incurring three penalties in the second period, and the last one proved costly. After junior defenseman Kara Drexler sent the puck in front, sophomore forward Emma Vlasic put a shot on net that Voorheis stopped, but Anderson was in position to knock in the rebound and tie the game 1-1 at 12:01.

"Usually at some point a freshman makes that adjustment to college hockey," said Flygh. "Laura is starting to play like a veteran. That's nice to see, and something we need."

Yale then killed off a penalty late in the second to keep the score tied heading into the third. The Bulldogs killed off another penalty midway through the third -- their 15th straight successful kill -- and wound up taking the lead shortly after that. Off a 3-on-2 defenseman Mallory Souliotis -- playing forward to make up for Yale's two missing players -- centered a pass for Monaghan that made it 2-1 with 6:48 to play. Junior forward Courtney Pensavalle also assisted on the play.

"We see that offensive potential even when Mallory is on defense," Flygh said of the decision to move Souliotis up. "It's her vision of the ice, and the skills that set her apart. And, she has played forward in youth hockey, so it was the natural thing to do."

The Bulldogs killed off another penalty with less than six minutes to play, but back at even strength Cornell took advantage of a 2-on-1 to get the equalizer as forward Amy Curlew backhanded one over Hofmann's glove at 17:13.

Yale earned a power play at the end of regulation that carried into overtime, but the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage. A pair of penalties then left Yale killing off a 5-on-3 for more than a minute. Monaghan got the kill off to a great start with a block, reaching out to poke the puck out of the zone. She also broke up a 3-on-1 right after that. With a minute left in OT junior forward Kaitlin Gately broke up a chance for the Big Red and managed to get the puck ahead to Vlasic for a short-handed chance that Voorheis stopped.

After finishing off their sixth successful penalty kill of the game, the Bulldogs dodged a bullet when a shot by defenseman Micah Hart hit the post in the final seconds, sealing the 2-2 tie. Voorheis finished with 25 saves.  

With the point tonight Yale has clinched an ECAC Hockey playoff spot. The Bulldogs will be seeded No. 6, No. 7 or No. 8 based on the results of the final three regular season games.  Yale hosts Colgate Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu, Yale Sports Publicity)