In their first home playoff game since 2009, St. Lawrence used a two-goal second period to defeat Yale 4-1, and take a 1-0 lead in their ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal series.
The lone goal of the first period came off the stick of Brooke Webster, who notched her 21st goal of the season with 4:07 left in the opening frame. Hannah Miller fed Webster the puck off the boards, and the senior cut into the slot, firing a quick wrist shot over the glove of Tera Hofmann.
“It was a really good feeling; we were really excited, as a senior class, about getting home ice, because we’ve had to travel a long way these past few years,” said Webster about scoring the first playoff goal in Appleton in eight years. “Being at home definitely gave us an advantage, and it was special feeling to get that first goal.”
The home-ice advantage was most noticeable in the second period, in which the Saints outshot Yale 11-4 and outscored them 2-0. Justine Reyes scored first, capitalizing on a rebound to the right of the crease of Hofmann and flipping a backhand past the rookie netminder. Then Miller tallied her 15th of the season, finishing off a feed through the slot from Kennedy Marchment at 14:31 of the second period.
Leading 3-0 after two periods, the Saints were comfortably in control of the game, but Yale played SLU tough, especially in the third period. After being outshot 23-8 over the first two periods, Yale narrowed the game to just 8-7 in favor of SLU, and they were able to spoil Grace Harrison’s shutout bid.
After Maggie McLaughlin scored on the power play 5:42 into the third to put SLU up 4-0, Yale got a power play of its own, and a perfectly executed passing sequence got the Bulldogs on the board.
Krista Yip-Chuck walked off the halfwall with the puck and send a whistling pass to the slot directly onto the stick of Eden Murray, who deflected it past a diving Harrison with 8:38 left in the third period. Yale continued to pressure the Saints, and pulled Hofmann late to try and get even with SLU, but the Saints held them off to take the series lead.
“Obviously you always want the shutout, but a 4-1 win? It’s hard to complain about that,” said Saints captain, and steady defender, Kirsten Padalis, who led all skaters with three points in the contest.
“The first one is always a big one, especially in a two-out-of-three series,” said Saints coach Chris Wells. “Everybody was contributing. I thought our D did a good job of making good decisions, and Grace made some big saves when needed.”
“When you’re down 3-0 after two periods, a team can just kind of pack it in and not play, but I think we finished the game, and that’s important; hopefully it builds some good momentum into tomorrow,” said Yale coach Joakim Flygh. “But there’s no question about it that St. Lawrence was the better team today, and the result shows it.”
The teams will meet again tomorrow at 3 p.m. when Yale will attempt to stave off elimination and the Saints try to earn their second straight bid to the semifinals.