NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Before Friday night’s first round tilt against Princeton, Yale had never hosted an ECAC Hockey League women’s playoff game.
The Bulldogs decided to make up for lost time.
A third-period penalty shot by freshman Helen Resor tied the first ECACHL women’s playoff game at Ingalls Rink, eventually sending it to overtime, where Deena Caplette scored to give the Bulldogs (15-14-1) to their first ever playoff victory.
“It came down to who got the bounce,” said Yale coach Hillary Witt, “because both teams were tired, both teams were so equally matched, it’s unreal. We’re just as good as they are, and they’re just as good as we are.”
“Our kids squeezed everything they could out of themselves,” said Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal, whose Tigers (16-9-5) fell to 0-3 against Yale this season. “We worked hard, but Yale worked hard too. They’re a good team. It was up and down, it was the way hockey should be played.”
The game was certainly a fan’s dream, right down to the sport’s most exciting play. The penalty shot came in the latter half of the third period, as Yale mounted a furious comeback effort in the face of a 3-2 deficit. During a scramble in front of the Princeton net, Tiger defenseman Katharine Maglione covered the puck, leading referee Kevin
Keenan to award the Bulldogs a penalty shot.
Resor, Witt’s pick to take the shot, drew Princeton goalkeeper Roxanne Gaudiel out of position and fired the puck into the net.
“I just tried not to think at all, if possible,” Resor said. “If I started thinking, I was going to get myself nervous.”
As for the shot itself, Resor said, “That’s my set move. I knew what I was going to do before I got on the ice, and I just hoped that she didn’t know it, because I do it all the time.”
Resor also scored the game’s first goal, as she became the first woman to score a playoff goal at Ingalls Rink. Four minutes in, Resor’s blueline shot caught Princeton keeper Roxanne Gaudiel off guard for a 1-0 Yale lead.
Princeton answered just under a minute later with a power-play tally, as a shot from the point grazed Sarah Love’s shoulder, and sophomore Liz Keady knocked the loose puck into the net for her team-best 15th goal of the season.
The Tigers then made it 2-1 on another power-play tally, as Keady’s classmate Kim Pearce launched a shot from the left point that beat Love, giving the Tigers a lead that would last into the first intermission.
Yale tied it up again early in the second period, as junior Natalie Babony took a feed across the crease from Nicole Symington and slammed it past an out-of-position Gaudiel. Tigers senior defenseman Katharine Maglione made the score 3-2 Princeton with two minutes to go in the period by launching a shot from the left face-off circle that found the top left corner of the net.
Yale mounted a mighty attack in the third period, but the Tigers held the Bulldogs off by using their speed to get back down the ice. The Bulldogs broke through in the latter half of the period, though, and forced several scrambles in front of the net, one of which yielded the penalty shot.
“I thought the ref was behind the play,” Kampersal said. “Our d-man had the puck in the crease, she slid out of it, and then covered it up, so it should have been a two-minute penalty for delay of game, not a penalty shot.”
“I think he made the right call,” Witt said. “He did it immediately, so I’m sure he was right on top of it.
“I just kind of knew Helen was going to score. I don’t know why. I just had a feeling, and she got it done.”
With the game tied, both teams fought hard for the go-ahead goal, but despite a pair of Yale penalties, no end was in sight as the buzzer sounded to end regulation.
Both Gaudiel and Love were tested in the extra session, but for fifteen minutes, both keepers stood tall in their respective nets.
“Our team eliminated a lot of chances,” Love said. “They took away some really good chances, especially in overtime, by backchecking hard, blocking some shots. I knew they were putting everything into the game, going all out, and I just had to be there and be ready, because we were going to score sooner or later with all the chances we were getting.”
The fateful chance came at 15:22 of the extra session, and Caplette was there to make sure the ending was happy for the Bulldogs.
“I think Duggan took the shot,” Caplette said. “There was a rebound, and I actually thought it was going wide, and I just backhanded it in. It was a great feeling, especially seeing the whole team charge after me.”
Love finished with 33 saves on 36 shots, while Gaudiel stopped 32 of the 36 she faced.
With one game in the books, Yale will try to end the series while the Tigers try to extend it, when the teams meet again on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.
Elliot Olshanksky is an assistant editor for CollegeSports.com.