A single late-game Quinnipiac goal ended the women’s hockey team’s playoff hopes.
The Elis (10–16–3, 8–13–1 ECAC) suffered a 1–0 loss to the Bobcats in Friday night’s away contest and then dropped another contest against Princeton 4–0, the following afternoon to finish the season three points out of playoff contention.
Heading into the weekend, the Bulldogs and the Big Green were tied for eighth in the league — the last spot that earns a ticket to the conference playoffs later this month. But the Elis’ chances were quelled by their loss on Friday and Dartmouth’s simultaneous 4–1 win against No. 7 Clarkson in New York. It looked like the Big Green had their bid made until a 4–3 loss to St. Lawrence combined with Colgate’s 3–2 win over RPI on Saturday allowed the Red Raiders to claim the eighth and final playoff seed.
“As a whole, our goal going into the weekend was just to leave everything out on the ice and not have any regrets and just play for the seniors as well,” forward Danielle Moncion’13 said. “They’re an amazing senior class and really led us through this year.”
The weekend’s results brought an abrupt stop to a late-season push by the Bulldogs that strove to compensate for the team’s 0–5 start to the season. Yale began to turn things around with a 2–2 tie against Cornell and a 3–0 victory over Colgate right before winter break, and then pulled out a series of wins in mid-January to keep the momentum going.
“The team could have easily just sat back in the second half,” head coach Hilary Witt said. “Instead, they came together and just worked a lot, and I’m really proud of them.”
But those efforts just weren’t good enough, as the Eli run finished with the loss to Quinnipiac.
Yale held off the Bobcats (18–8–8, 11–4–7) for most of the 60-minute contest, but a Bobcat goal in the ninth minute of the third frame was enough to give Quinnipiac the win.
“We tried hard, but unfortunately it just didn’t go our way,” Witt said.
While Quinnipiac outshot Yale 15–5 in the opening period, Eli goaltender Jackee Snikeris ’11 was perfect with 15 saves. The Bulldogs didn’t even get their first shot on goal until halfway through the first frame, when forward Bray Ketchum ’11 managed to send a blue-line pass from defenseman Samantha MacLean ’11 toward the net. Yale also incurred three consecutive penalties near the close of the period but kept the Bobcats from capitalizing — even when Quinnipiac had a 40-second five-on-three advantage.
“We’ve been really working on the penalty kill all season and we’ve improved significantly,” Moncion said. “It was just a matter of putting what we’d learned in practice into play.”
Both teams remained scoreless during the second stanza. Snikeris added another 11 saves to her tally, and the Bulldogs had a few good attempts on Quinnipiac’s net from forwards Ketchum, Becky Mantell ’12 and Aleca Hughes ’12, but were unable to finish any of their chances.
Then Quinnipiac broke the tie midway through the final frame. Forward Kallie Flor bypassed Snikeris at the 8:46 mark to put the home squad on the board, and up by one. The Bulldogs pulled Snikeris with 49 seconds remaining in the game but couldn’t rally before time expired and they recorded the 1–0 loss.
“I think we came out a little nervous in the beginning,” Ketchum said. “We were kind of set back because they were putting a lot of shots on us.”
Yale’s luck wasn’t much better the next day against Princeton (13-12-4, 11-7-4). The Elis had fallen into a 2–0 deficit by the 15th minute of the first period, with Tiger forwards knocking in goals at 7:10 and 14:45. Still, Princeton only outshot Yale 9–6 in the first frame.
Both squads tallied eight shots in the second stanza, which also featured the game’s only penalty — giving Yale a power play at 13:41. The Bulldogs had a number of good opportunities that period, but goaltender Rachel Weber repeatedly denied Yale’s attackers. Snikeris also kept the home team from capitalizing that frame.
But Princeton broke through twice more in the final 20 minutes. Forward Heather Landry scored at 6:58, and forward Julie Johnson added another at 13:13 to bring the Tigers to the 4–0 final.
Yale finished up the season with 17 ECAC points, good for 10th place and trailing ninth-place Dartmouth by two.
“I think there’s a lot to be said about the second half of the season with the success we had, but obviously none of us are happy that we are not playing this [upcoming] weekend,” Ketchum said. “We improved a lot as a team and we definitely proved toward the end of our season that we could potentially beat anyone and I think that, having been given the chance, we would have surprised a lot of people.”