CANTON, N.Y. – No. 5 St. Lawrence's potent offense came alive just in time for the start of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals Friday night at Appleton Arena, as the Saints topped the Yale women's ice hockey team 4-1 in game one of the best-of-three series. St. Lawrence, ranked seventh nationally in scoring offense (3.31 goals per game) entering the day, had been held to two or fewer goals five times in the last six games but returned to its high-scoring ways thanks to goals from four different players. Yale's goal came from junior forward Eden Murray.
Yale (10-16-4, 8-12-2 ECAC Hockey), as the seventh seed in the playoffs, got the unenviable task of traveling to Canton to try to knock off the second-seeded Saints. The Bulldogs got some good news before the game, as senior forward Krista Yip-Chuck -- tied for the team lead in assists and points -- returned to the lineup for the first time since leaving the Feb. 4 game with an apparent injury. But injuries continued to plague the Bulldogs, and they wound up playing Friday without one of their defensive stalwarts: sophomore Julia Yetman. With Yip-Chuck's return and Yetman's absence, junior Mallory Souliotis returned to playing defense after a temporary move up to forward.
St. Lawrence (25-4-4, 16-3-3 ECAC Hockey) came out firing, outshooting the Bulldogs 11-4 in the first period. But the Saints only got one past Yale freshman goaltender Tera Hofmann, a high wrister from the slot by forward Brooke Webster in transition at 15:53. The Bulldogs killed off one penalty, then incurred another one late in the period. They also had one power play, but the best chance on that one wound up being a shot by SLU forward Kayla Nielsen on a breakaway that Hofmann got just enough of before it hit the post and bounced away.
Three saves by Hofmann killed off the rest of that Yale penalty early in the second. She held the Saints' powerful offense at bay until the final minutes of the period, when a pair of quick goals changed the complexion of the game. First, forward Justine Reyes knocked in a rebound at 12:40 to make it 2-0. Less than two minutes later, the Saints' potent top line finally struck again, as forward Kennedy Marchment set up forward Hannah Miller for a top-shelf snipe and a three-goal lead. Marchment, Miller and Webster had entered the game with a combined 52 goals and 95 assists.
One of Yale's best chances to score came just moments before the end of the second, as Saints goalie Grace Harrison sprawled out to deny a shot by senior defenseman Taylor Marchin and keep the score 3-0 heading into the third period.
A rush by senior forward Phoebe Staenz drew an SLU penalty early in the third, but the Bulldogs were unable to get a shot on goal during that power play. The Saints then capitalized on a power play of their own, as Webster fed forward Maggie McLaughlin from behind the net for a one-timer that made it 4-0 at 5:42.
Yale did get a power play shortly after that goal, but it was short-lived as the Bulldogs incurred a penalty of their own 50 seconds later and Marchin had to dive to disrupt a potential breakaway for the Saints. A series of penalties on both teams left Yale killing off a 5-on-3 and a 4-on-3 briefly, but excellent work by Marchin, Monaghan, Murray and junior forward Kaitlin Gately kept the Saints from extending their lead.
The Yale power play unit broke up the shutout at 11:22 of the third, as Yip-Chuck took a feed from Staenz and then threaded a pass from the right circle to Murray at the far post for a redirect that made the score 4-1. That was the Bulldogs' sixth power play goal in the last eight games.
Hofmann finished with 27 saves, while Harrison made 14.
The Bulldogs and the Saints play game two of the best-of-three series Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at Appleton Arena.