Bulldogs Fall in Nutmeg Classic Championship
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - UConn scored three goals in the first 15 minutes en route to a 6-1 win over Yale Saturday night that gave the Huskies their fourth Nutmeg Classic Championship in the tournament's six-year history. This was also the fourth time the Bulldogs have finished as runners-up.
Yale had been outscored 10-1 in the first periods of its first nine games, but the Bulldogs reversed that trend Friday afternoon with a 2-0 first period against Sacred Heart in the first round of the Nutmeg Classic. They ended up with a 10-1 win that put them in the Nutmeg Classic championship game for the fifth time. But the Huskies put the Bulldogs back on their heels Saturday with three goals in the first 15:28. The first came on a power play at 8:39, as defenseman Jody Sydor's shot from the left point slid through traffic past Yale goalie Jackee Snikeris.
Less than a minute later, another shot by Sydor was deflected in front by forward Lisa Stathopulos for a 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs got their first power play of the night after that -- in fact, they had a delayed power play in which they controlled the puck out of their own end and were able to set up senior defenseman Alyssa Clarke for a wrister that UConn goalie Jennie Bellonio stopped. But the actual Yale power play after that lasted just 42 seconds, and the Bulldogs did not get off any shots before being whistled for too many men on the ice, negating their advantage.
Forward Jennifer Chaisson increased the UConn lead to 3-0 with a goal from right in front at the 15:28 mark. The Bulldogs had another power play late in the period, but their best scoring chance was a shot by Clarke that went wide.
The second period was more evenly played, and the Bulldogs threatened on a power play midway through. Freshman forward Danielle Moncion skated through the Husky defense into the slot but could not control the puck enough to put a solid shot on net. Three minutes later a turnover by UConn gave senior forward Berit Johnson the chance to skate in all alone for a wrist shot that sailed just high.
Yale (2-8-1, 1-7-0 ECAC Hockey) finally broke through on a power play at 17:03. Junior forward Bray Ketchum backhanded a pass from the right circle that freshman forward Alyssa Zupon put on net. Amidst a scrum of players fighting for the puck, sophomore forward Aleca Hughes was able to poke it in to get Yale with 3-1.
UConn (7-5-3, 1-3-3 Hockey East) quickly snuffed out any Yale momentum. Forward Kelly Horan's pass from behind the goal to Snikeris' right slid past its intended target but went to forward Michelle Binning in the slot, and she slipped it past Snikeris' left leg for a 4-1 lead with just 53.5 seconds left in the second period.
The Bulldogs started the third period on the power play thanks to another delayed penalty on UConn right at the end of the second period. But Bellonio, a former Yale Youth Hockey player, made a save on the one shot Yale got. After a Yale timeout with 12:04 to play, Moncion got off a nice wrist shot in the slot, but Bellonio made the stop and covered the puck for a faceoff. She would finish with 21 saves.
Chaisson and forward Monique Weber added power-play goals in the third to make the final 6-1. Snikeris ended with 24 saves.
After the game, a brief ceremony was held on the ice and the Huskies were presented with the trophy. UConn goalie Alexandra Garcia, who made 20 saves to shut out Quinnipiac in the opening game, won the Laurie Belliveau Award as the top goaltender. The award is named after Laurie Belliveau '98, the former All-American goalie for the Bulldogs. Binning was named tournament MVP.
Earlier in the day, Quinnipiac beat Sacred Heart 11-1 in the consolation game.
Yale plays its final two games before winter break next weekend, traveling to Cornell Friday and Colgate Saturday.