The Yale women’s hockey team faces a tough rivalry weekend as the Bulldogs travel north to take on No. 5 Harvard and Dartmouth.
The Bulldogs (4—17—2, 3—11—2 ECAC) are on a 16-game winless streak against the Crimson (17—3—2, 14—1—1 ECAC) dating back to November 18, 2005, and Harvard currently stands in first place in the conference. Dartmouth (12—7—4, 7—6—3 ECAC), meanwhile, has a 13-game unbeaten streak over Yale, dating back to the 2005-’06 season as well.
“It’s going to take a great team effort to win in both games, and we’re ready and willing to do that,” team captain and forward Alyssa Zupon ’13 said.
Getting a win in either game would be a major step forward for the Elis. Going into the season, the team’s goal was to make the ECAC playoffs, but it stands now on the outside looking in, two points behind Princeton for the final spot.
“[A win] would give us momentum leading into next weekend,” goaltender Jaimie Leonoff ’15 said.
A week after the squad took on Quinnipiac’s Kelly Babstock, the Elis will again face one of the nation’s top scorers, Harvard’s Jillian Dempsey, whose 23 goals and 17 assists rank her ninth in the country in points. She scored twice in Harvard’s 4-0 win over Yale earlier in the season.
“Dempsey is a skilled player, but we won’t treat her any differently,” Zupon said. “We want to play our toughest, hardest-working defense against everyone.”
Playing that defense against the Crimson, however, can be tricky. Harvard stands second in the conference in team offense and first in team defense.
“It’ll come down to hard work and who wants it more,” Leonoff said. “That’s why we play the game.”
Dartmouth, on the other hand, is known for a very physical style. The Big Green average 10.7 penalty minutes per game, which is sixth in the nation.
“Starting the game fast, aggressive and confident are key in the Dartmouth game,” Zupon said. “If we start off strong and get an early goal, we can build confidence and smother theirs.”
Leonoff added that the game is like any other game. If the team blocks shots, capitalizes on scoring chances and plays good defense, she said, “we can play with anybody.”
Of course, not all games are created equal.
“It’s always nice to beat Harvard,” Leonoff said.
The Bulldogs play Friday at Harvard and Saturday at Dartmouth.