After going nearly a month without a win, the relief was palpable as the women’s hockey team shut out Clarkson en route to its program-record setting ninth conference win.
At Alumni/Friends and Youth Day at Ingalls Rink with fans, alumni and youth numbering nearly 500 — the largest crowd the Elis have seen this season — Yale (11-12-1, 9-5-1 ECAC) downed league opponent Clarkson (9-12-6, 4-9-1), 2-0. Prior to Saturday’s victory, the Bulldogs’ last win had been Jan. 7 when they squeaked past the Knights 2-1 in overtime in Potsdam, N.Y. On Friday night, Yale suffered a 3-0 loss to conference rival No. 5 St. Lawrence.
A recent winless streak had the Elis in hot pursuit of a victory when they took the ice against Clarkson. Yale had gone 0-5-1 since meeting the Knights for the first time. Included in those five losses was the Bulldogs’ worst defeat of the season, an 11-2 rout at Harvard’s hands, and the Elis were looking to make a strong comeback this weekend.
After a scoreless first period, defender Nina Resor ’07 lit up the scoreboard for Yale at 16:15. Forwards Lisa Jacque ’07 and Natalie Babony ’06 assisted on the goal. The two drove the puck into the corner, behind Clarkson goaltender Kira McDonald, then found Resor set up near the blueline. Resor lined up and fired a long shot through the Knights’ defense and past McDonald, burying itself in the upper corner of the net.
“Nina Resor recently came back from an injury,” head coach Hilary Witt said. “She’s still trying to find her legs. She’s always a steady player for us.”
Defender Helen Resor ’08 kept Yale’s scoring on Saturday in the family as she followed her cousin’s goal with one of her own 3:35 into the third period. Forwards Deena Caplette ’06 and Kristin Savard ’07 got the puck in front of the Knights’ goal to Helen Resor who blasted a high shot over McDonald’s shoulder to put Yale ahead 2-0.
New to Yale’s program, it appeared as though Helen Resor hit her stride on the ice Saturday; she played without the usual rookie mistakes — mental errors and penalty trouble — that have followed her this season.
“Helen Resor is still learning the system,” Witt said. “Today was one of her best games; she made smart decisions and good plays.”
The Bulldogs got a scare late in the third period, however, when Savard and defender Kelsey Johnson ’07 both found themselves in the penalty box, handing Clarkson a 5-on-3 with just over two and a half minutes left in play. But Yale’s penalty kill came out big, apparently fully recovered from its lapses last weekend against Harvard, where it had just a 50 percent success rate. The Elis held the Knights to 0-4 on the power play for the game.
According to Nina Resor, Yale’s success against Clarkson was mainly due to improved mental focus and intelligent play.
“We played a really smart game,” Resor said. “We did the little things that we hadn’t done last night [against St. Lawrence].”
Helen Resor described these “little things” as an improved defensive effort and better handling of the puck than the Elis have exhibited in recent games.
“We had a better D-zone game and we were making better and smarter passes,” she said.
Yale goaltender Sarah Love ’06 made 19 saves in the victory, and grabbed her first shutout of the season.
The victory over Clarkson came on the heels of a 3-0 loss to St. Lawrence. The Bulldogs played the Saints evenly in the first period — Yale outshot St. Lawrence 16-12 and had an early opportunity to score when the Saints’ Laurie Ross found herself in the penalty box less than a minute into the game. But the St. Lawrence defense led by goaltender Meaghan Guckian denied all of Yale’s power play goal attempts and the period ended scoreless.
“The first period was great; we played unbelievably,” Witt said.
At 8:55 into the second, St. Lawrence’s Chelsea Grills knocked a goal past Love to open the night’s scoring. Sabrina Harbec added the Saints’ second goal, as Yale’s changeup went awry and Harbec had an open lane to attack Love.
“We were not very good on our face-offs and that cost us a goal,” Witt said. “We had a bad changeup, and that cost us a goal also.”
In a last-minute attempt to force overtime, Witt pulled Love at with just over a minute left to play. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs committed a fatal turnover, and Emilie Berlinguette grabbed the puck and tapped an easy goal into the open net.
“[Friday] was a rough game,” Helen Resor said of the loss. “We played disciplined hockey but we lacked passion.”
This weekend’s play kept Yale at fourth in the ECAC, where the Elis need to stay to guarantee home-ice advantage come playoff time. The victory over Clarkson encouraged the team, and the Elis hope to carry that momentum into their upcoming games.
“[Saturday]‘s win was huge for us, considering we haven’t been playing our best hockey recently,” Helen Resor said.