NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Team USA faced off against a team of the ECACHL’s finest in a game that packed more intensity and excitement than can be indicated by either the All-Star Game moniker or the 6-2 final score. The teams combined for sixteen penalties, including four pairs of matching minors, and the unpolished penalty kill of the ECACHL proved to be the All-Stars’ downfall.
Even so, the contest provided Team USA with a competitive tune-up before traveling to Torino, Italy, for an Olympic preparation tournament, and it gave the 21 ECACHL all-stars the chance to put aside their usual competition and enjoy seeing each other in a different light.
“We were out there to try to give the US team a challenge, and we did,” said Yale senior forward Deena Caplette.
Caplette’s ECACHL All-Star team opened the game strongly, controlling the puck in Team USA’s end and drawing an early hooking penalty on Harvard graduate Jamie Hagerman. St. Lawrence’s Sabrina Harbec, the most recent USCHO Offensive Player of the Week, beat Team USA’s starting netminder Pam Dreyer to convert on the ECACHL All-Stars’ first and only power-play shot of the game.
Already skating four-a-side seven minutes later, the All-Stars took two more penalties in a span of 22 seconds, unleashing the explosive Team USA power-play that finished 3-for-5 on the night. The open ice afforded by the four-on-three advantage set up a shot by Angela Ruggiero (Harvard ’04) that found the net behind starting netminder and Yale senior Sarah Love to knot the game at one.
As ECACHL coach Katey Stone of Harvard pointed out, “Special teams are what’s going to suffer, obviously, when you bring a team together quickly.” The team prepared for the game with a single hour-long practice.
Team USA added a tally by Kathleen Kauth, a Brown graduate, on a two-on-one late in the first, and would not look back. ECACHL goaltender Ali Boe, taking over for Love in the second, held the U.S. scoreless for 13:16 before letting through two goals in just 29 seconds, including an unassisted tally by local New Haven product and former Harvard teammate Caitlin Cahow. Team USA Player of the Game Katie King, an Assistant Coach at Boston College, notched her third point of the evening on another four-on-three power-play for a 5-1 lead.
A score by Brown’s Hayley Moore, assisted by Caplette, just 21 seconds into the third period was not enough to rejuvenate the ECACHL All-Stars. At 5:32 of the period, Minnesota alumna Natalie Darwitz shook down Princeton goalie Roxanne Gaudiel to go five-hole with the final goal of the game.
Despite the lopsided score, players on both sides were able to celebrate the atmosphere at Yale University’s Ingalls Rink.
“That’s the most packed I’ve seen this place with girls on the ice,” said Team USA’s Helen Resor of the crowd of 1,539. The game was a double homecoming for Resor, both to Yale and to her home state of Connecticut. “This is the most nervous I’ve ever been for a game,” she added. “I don’t think I was quite prepared.”
On the opposite bench, Resor’s Yale teammates took a much more relaxed approach. “It was a fun game,” said Love. Caplette agreed, saying, “I was just here to have fun” and to socialize with All-Star teammates.
Despite their low-key attitudes, though, the All-Star team’s Yale trio of Love, Caplette, and junior forward Kristin Savard earned nothing but praise from Stone.
“Sarah’s one of the best goalies around,” Stone said. “[Deena and Kristin] work hard, they are disciplined, and they are fun to coach. They brought a lot of enthusiasm.”
In praising her team’s effort, Stone added, “They went hard for 60 minutes and we’ve got a league weekend this weekend.”
Indeed, this physical game remained tough until the end, with four roughing minors assessed in the final 3:02 of play.
Team USA coach Ben Smith agreed that New Haven was a useful stop on the Skate to 2006 Tour.
“I know these kids are happy to play games against us,” he said. “They are good games for us too.”