The Yale women’s hockey team continued to show its competitiveness in the ECAC over break, winning two and losing two in the team’s first games of 2014.
The vacation culminated in a key 2–0 victory at No. 4/5 Harvard (12–2–2, 8–2–1) on Saturday, marking the first time since 2005 that the Bulldogs have beaten the Crimson, and the first time since 1981 that they have done so on their rival’s home ice.
“It was the best feeling, knowing how much it means to everyone on the team, how much it meant to our coaches,” defenseman Kate Martini ’16 said. “The fact that they’re top five in the country made it that much greater of a feeling.”
Yale is 4–3 in its last seven games after beginning the season with five straight losses.
Players on the team said that the improvement shows the Bulldogs playing to their true potential.
“When we play well, we’re capable of beating any team in this league, but our performance has been inconsistent thus far,” defender and captain Tara Tomimoto ’14 said.
Yale tallied 12 goals over the four games, despite playing without leading scorer Phoebe Staenz ’17 for the first two. Staenz was in Germany playing for Team Switzerland in the Nations Cup during the Elis’ 6–4 win over Colgate and 3–0 loss to No. 3 Cornell.
Forward Jackie Raines ’15 returned to play for the first time since the 2011–2012 season, when she led the Bulldogs in scoring as a sophomore. An injury kept her out of hockey for all of last season and the first half of this one, but she returned to the ice just as dangerous as she left it with two goals and two assists through the four games.
“Jackie has always been a great player, and she came back in shape and ready to go,” Tomimoto said. “I think she’s going to be a great player for us throughout the rest of the season.”
Against Colgate (5–14–2, 2–8–0) on Jan. 3, five Bulldogs contributed goals in the offensive battle. All of these goals would prove necessary, as Yale had only a 5–4 lead late in the third period until forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 scored her second goal of the game with an empty-netter.
The Elis proceeded to be shut out by Cornell (13–1–3, 8–0–2) the next day, despite tallying almost as many shots as they had the previous game.
Yale had scored six goals on only 20 shots the day before but could not manage any on 16 shots at Big Red goalie Paula Voorheis.
“We’ve always tended to have fewer shots than the other team, but I think in the games we win, we have more quality chances,” Tomimoto said. “We can get shots, but a lot of times they’ll be from the outside, so I think it really comes down to the amount of quality shots, and the quantity of shots doesn’t tell you that.”
The next weekend, the Bulldogs’ offense heated up again at Dartmouth (4–12–1, 3–7–1). The Big Green took a 1–0 lead early on, but the lead would change several times throughout the game. Yale scored twice, then Dartmouth scored twice before Yale scored another two to take a 4–3 lead midway through the third period.
But the Big Green got the final word with both an equalizer later in the period and a game winning goal with just 38 seconds left on the clock.
Goaltender Hanna Mandl ’17 got the start against Dartmouth, allowing three goals before Jaimie Leonoff ’15 came in halfway through the game.
Tomimoto tallied three points during the contest, her most this season, with one goal and two assists.
The Bulldogs then headed southeast to Cambridge, playing their rival on the same day that their male counterparts were also taking on the Crimson at Madison Square Garden.
Like the men’s team, Yale came away with a decisive victory. This one was more of an upset, however, as Harvard had entered the game with only one loss all season.
Raines gave the Bulldogs an early lead with a one-timer goal in the first period. Forward Hanna Astrom ’16 and a Harvard defender both went for a pass by Raines in front of the net, but the puck got popped into the air, and Raines flew in from the corner to finish the play that she started.
In the second period, Yale got some insurance from Martini, as she intercepted a Harvard pass at the top of the zone and sniped a goal from the blue line.
Leonoff went on to complete her shutout of a dumbfounded Crimson squad, and Yale improved to 4–5–1 in the ECAC.
The shutout showed a defensive improvement over the 12 goals allowed in the Elis’ previous three games.
“Defensively, we made a commitment to play tough in the defensive zone, pick up sticks, clear people from in front of the net and keep a tighter gap in the neutral zone,” Martini said. “All those things combined with a lot of hard work made a big difference.”
Yale will face No. 6 Clarkson at home this Friday evening.