An emotional week for the Yale women’s hockey team ended with a big win over ECAC foe Colgate Saturday as the Bulldogs took down the Raiders 3–1 for its first win of 2011. That game was third in a brutal three-game stretch during which Yale fell to No. 6 Boston College, No. 2 Cornell and Colgate in their first action after nearly a month’s layoff for exams and the holidays. The Elis now stand in seventh place in the ECAC with six weeks of the regular season remaining.
An early goal from the Eagles (13–3–4, 7–1–2 WHEA) doomed the Bulldogs in their first outing of 2011 as, despite a career-high 49 saves from goaltender Jackee Snikeris ’11, Yale could not overcome a 52–18 shot deficit.
Jackie Raines ’14 brought the Bulldogs to within a goal in the third when she lit the lamp at 2:56 of the final period, but that was all the Yale offense could muster, and the Eagles’ Taylor Wasylk added an empty-netter in the closing minutes to give No. 6 BC the 3–1 victory.
Things didn’t get any easier from there, as what was already certain to be a difficult weekend in light of news of the deterioration of Mandi Schwartz’s condition was made all the more difficult by the arrival of No. 2 Cornell (15–1–0, 10–0–0 ECAC) — the conference leader — to Ingalls in the midst of a blizzard Friday night. Despite missing six players to the Canadian women’s junior national squad in action at the MLP cup, the Big Red charged into Ingalls having been ranked first in the nation the previous week.
Even so, the Bulldogs gave their Ancient Eight rival all they could handle in the first 20 minutes, heading to the first intermission locked in a scoreless tie. But the Big Red — who still had their two leading scorers with them for their trip to New Haven — showed the potent offense that propelled them to the top of the national rankings, tallying three goals in the second period and outshooting Yale 16–5 in that frame.
Snikeris racked up the saves again, stopping 29 shots for the Bulldogs, but Cornell’s Lauren Slebodnick stopped all 23 Yale chances to give her team its eighth shutout of the season.
“Cornell was a tough loss for us,” captain Sam MacLean ’11 said. “They’re a good team but they were missing some of their key players and so it was a big opportunity for us. Going into Saturday’s game we were more relaxed and we were just trying to have fun and go back to the basics.”
There was no rest for the weary as Yale had to turn right around and play Colgate (6–13–2, 3–6–1 ECAC) less than 20 hours later, a team with which the Bulldogs were tied with for the eighth — and final — ECAC playoff spot coming into the weekend’s action. It looked as if the stress of the week had finally taken its toll, as the Raiders scored a goal just two minutes into the first period. But in what may prove to be one of the bigger goals the Bulldogs have scored all season, Aleca Hughes ’12 responded less than thirty seconds later with a goal of her own to tie the score and erase what had been a shaky opening few minutes.
The game stayed tied until midway through the second period when Bray Ketchum ’11 put the Bulldogs up on a goal assisted by new linemate Jackie Raines ’14. Up until Saturday’s game, Ketchum had joined Hughes and center Alyssa Zupon ’13 on Yale’s top line, but after what proved to be a tough opening stretch coming out of the break, first–year Coach Joakim Flygh shuffled the lineup, opting to put Raines, Yale’s second leading scorer behind Ketchum, in Zupon’s place.
That move paid off as Zupon’s new line, featuring Danielle Moncion ’13 and Jenna Ciotti ’14, tallied the Bulldogs’ third goal of the afternoon when a shot from defensemen Heather Grant ’12 was deflected multiple times before Ciotti finally got a decisive piece of the puck for her second goal of the season.
Snikeris was spectacular again for Coach Flygh and the Bulldogs, making 33 saves en route to the win which was not only important because of the crowded ECAC playoff picture, but also impressive as a culmination of what was a challenging week for the Bulldogs.
“It has been a tough week both on and off the ice,” Ketchum said after Saturday’s win. “We are trying to be really supportive of each other right now and show our love for Mands.”
With Schwartz’s jersey hanging behind them on their bench, the Bulldogs demonstrated great mental toughness bouncing back from what could’ve been a demoralizing loss to Cornell Friday night.
“I think the key to our success was generating offense early in the game. Aleca’s goal put us back in the game and boosted our mentality.” MacLean said. “In the second half of the season we’re going to need to continue to put the puck in the net and generate offense early on in game.”
The Bulldogs will look to score early on Wednesday evening when Brown (2–10–3, 1–6–2) makes the trip to Ingalls for Yale’s last home game before a grueling trip to St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend. That game will round out the first half of the ECAC season for Yale, who currently sits just ahead of St. Lawrence (9–10–2, 4–5) in seventh in the ECAC standings, making Brown a crucial win as the Bulldogs head into an even more important weekend.
“The win against Colgate was huge,” Ketchum said. “We still need to improve in various aspects of our game, but we’re moving in the right direction. Anything can happen in our league right now. Our goal is to be at the top come playoff time and we all believe this is feasible.”