Leonoff’s Season Comes to an End with 4-0 Loss in Game 3 vs Harvard
Bulldogs Fall in Best-of-Three Quarterfinals, Ending Season
An unforgettable ECAC Hockey playoff series between the Yale women's ice hockey team and No. 5 Harvard came to an end Sunday afternoon at Bright-Landry Hockey Center, with the Crimson prevailing 4-0. With the win, Harvard takes the best-of-three quarterfinal series two games to one and advances to next Saturday's ECAC Hockey semifinals. The loss ends Yale's season, but it certainly did not end without a fight.
"We had not been to the playoffs in a long time, so that was obviously a step forward," said Joakim Flygh, Yale's head coach. "But when you get there, you're not satisfied after a loss. Our kids gave it everything they had, though, so it's heartbreaking."
After playing back-to-back double overtime games -- nearly 100 minutes of hockey Friday night and more than 80 minutes of hockey Saturday night -- both teams had to contend with fatigue entering the decisive third game. Yale had won 3-2 on Friday night on a power play goal by sophomore Janelle Ferrara, but Harvard countered Saturday afternoon by winning 3-2 on a goal by forward Miye D'Oench.
Harvard (23-5-4, 16-3-3 ECAC Hockey) elected to start freshman goaltender Brianna Laing, who had won game two, again on Sunday -- passing up Emerance Maschmeyer, a finalist for the Kazmaier Award who had started game one. Yale junior goalie Jaimie Leonoff, whose 108 saves in the first two games were a major reason why there even was a game three, got the start for the Bulldogs.
Yale (9-16-7, 6-9-7 ECAC Hockey), in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, came close to making history by advancing as the No. 7 seed. Since the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals became a best-of-three series in 2002, the lowest seed to win a quarterfinal series had been No. 6 seeds Quinnipiac in 2012 and Rensselaer in 2009. Even winning a game has been rare for seeds that low -- it happened just twice before, in 2004 (No. 7 Colgate beat No. 2 St. Lawrence in game two), 2010 (No. 7 St. Lawrence beat No. 2 Clarkson in game two).
In the end, though, it was not meant to be for the Bulldogs -- and Harvard's offense made that clear early. A goal by forward Hillary Crowe at 5:30 of the first gave Harvard a 1-0 lead, and its first chance of the series to play with a lead. The Crimson then got another first when defenseman Sarah Edney scored at 11:20 of the first -- that was the first time in the three-game series that either team had a lead larger than one goal. Leonoff got back on track by making a great save on a shot by forward Samantha Reber during a two-on-one with 2:30 to play. The Bulldogs got a power play late in the first but Laing stopped the only Yale shot with the man advantage.
"We were tired," said Flygh. "That showed in the first period, but you have to give credit where credit is due -- Harvard played well."
Freshman forward Gretchen Tarrant drew a penalty on the Crimson 10 minutes into the second period that led to one of Yale's best scoring chances. On the ensuing power play, freshman forward Phoebe Staenz fed the puck across to sophomore forward Hanna Åström in the left circle for a wrister. Laing reacted quickly to get across and glove the shot by Åström to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard.
Shortly after that the Yale penalty kill unit, which was a perfect 12-for-12 in the first two games, faced its first major test. The first Bulldogs penalty of the game came at 11:57 of the second, and the kill got off to a good start thanks to blocked shots by freshman forward Krista Yip-Chuck and sophomore forward Jamie Haddad. But another penalty on the Bulldogs right after that led to a 5-on-3 for Harvard.
Ferrara, Haddad and senior defenseman Tara Tomimoto came out for the kill. They limited Harvard to two slap shots from distance by Edney, and Leonoff stopped them both. A penalty on the Crimson then ended the 5-on-3 prematurely, reducing Harvard's advantage to 4-on-3.
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