NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale junior goaltender Jackee Snikeris and Northeastern net minder Leah Sulyma have had some great duels over the past few years, and Friday's showdown at Ingalls Rink proved to be another one. Snikeris had shut out the Huskies in each of their past two meetings, but a diving backhanded goal by forward Kristi Kehoe at 16:56 of the first ended that scoring drought for ninth-ranked Northeastern. Two goals late in the third period gave NU a 3-0 win, with Sulyma making 32 saves for the shut out.
Both teams were coming off long breaks, with Yale having last played on Dec. 5 (a 3-0 win at Colgate) and Northeastern having been idle since a 3-2 overtime loss to BC on Dec. 4. The first period was a low-scoring affair with the teams combining for only 14 shots on net. The best chance for the Bulldogs came with 13 minutes left, when junior forward Bray Ketchum blocked a shot at the Yale blue line and the puck bounced into the neutral zone. Ketchum chased it down and came in all alone on Sulyma, but shot the puck just wide.
Northeastern (11-4-2, 6-3-2-1 Hockey East) had one of its best chances seven minutes later, when forwards Alyssa Wohlfeiler and Casey Pickett skated in from the neutral zone for a 2-on-1. Junior defenseman Samantha MacLean was the lone Bulldog back, but she was able to get into the passing lane and disrupt the play. Snikeris then made a save on the Huskies' attempt to follow up on the blocked pass.
After having gone 145:59 without scoring on Yale, a streak that dated back to the Bulldogs' 3-1 win in November of 2006, the Huskies broke through with a spectacular individual effort by Kehoe in front of the net. She collided with Snikeris as the Yale goaltender was making a stop, but Kehoe kept her eyes on the puck as she was falling down and backhanded the puck into the net behind the sprawled-out Snikeris with just over three minutes left in the period.
Yale senior forward Caroline Murphy helped the Bulldogs gain some offensive momentum at 7:41 of the second period, stealing the puck in the Northeastern zone and forcing the Huskies into a tripping penalty as she attempted to get a shot off while falling to the ice. But in addition to having the top scoring defense in the country, the Huskies also have a top-10 penalty killing unit, and Sulyma stopped both Yale shots during the man advantage to maintain Northeastern's lead.
Less than a minute after that NU penalty ended the Huskies were hit with another one, and this time Yale generated a flurry of shots. Ketchum had the best look at the net, sending a wrister just wide, and Sulyma made five stops to keep the Bulldogs scoreless. Sulyma also used her glove to get just enough of a wrist shot by Ketchum with less than four minutes to play in the period to keep it out of the net.
Northeastern had another 2-on-1 with a minute left in the second, but freshman defenseman Jamie Gray broke up defenseman Ginny Berg's centering pass attempt. The Bulldogs had a 15-10 edge in shots for the second period but still went into the second intermission down 1-0.
Yale (3-9-2, 2-7-1 ECAC Hockey) had two great chances to tie the game in the first minute of the third period. On one save Sulyma could not control the puck and it bounced behind her but went wide of the net. She then denied an attempt from right in front of the net by freshman forward Alyssa Zupon.
Snikeris made one of the best of her 22 saves when she got her right leg out to deny a breakaway by forward Casey Pickett with 15:30 to play. But the Huskies finally got the back-breaking goal with 1:43 left when forward Brittany Esposito converted on another breakaway to make it 2-0. An empty-netter 17 seconds later made the final 3-0.
This was the first win over Yale for Sulyma, who was on the wrong end of a 1-0 Yale overtime win in 2008 and also lost a 2-0 game to the Bulldogs last winter. This was just the second game of the season for her, as she had been stuck behind Florence Schelling. Schelling is now with the Swiss National Team in preparation for the Olympics.
Yale returns to the ice at Ingalls Saturday, hosting Vermont at 3 p.m. Video of the game will be available through Yale All-Access on yalebulldogs.com.