WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Yale hopes to keep playoff spot

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Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

After two disappointing losses last weekend, the women’s hockey team will be looking to rebound this weekend against Union and Rensselaer as it heads into the final six games of the regular season.

The two home games will be crucial for the Bulldogs’ hopes of making the ECAC playoffs. Yale (7–12–4, 5–7–4 ECAC) currently sits in seventh place, but Rensselaer and Dartmouth are just one point away from knocking the Elis out of playoff contention.

“These two games are probably make-or-break for us,” said goalie Jaimie Leonoff ’15. “It’s the homestretch, this is the most winnable weekend we have all year and we really, really need the points to finish in a good position.”

Yale grabbed its first wins of the season against Rensselaer (10–15–2, 6–9–1) and Union (8–19–1, 3–13–0) in November. Those two games began a 7–7–3 run for the Elis after they had dropped their first five games.

Both games were narrow victories, however, as Yale topped the Engineers 2–1 despite being outshot 40–12, and the score was 5–4 at Union until the Bulldogs tacked on an empty net goal late in the game.

Last weekend’s loss to Colgate — a team that was at the bottom of the ECAC standings two weeks ago — shows that previous results are not always indicative of how any given game will play out.

Captain and forward Tara Tomimoto ’14 said the team has taken measures to avoid unexpected losses in the future.

“This week, we talked about how the week before, our practices weren’t at the intensity that they needed to be at,” Tomimoto said. “We’ve really remedied that and had a really good week in practice.”

Though the team still lacks its leading scorer, forward Phoebe Staenz ’17, forward Jamie Haddad ’16 has picked up the slack with five goals in the past eight games.

Leonoff said Haddad has been a strong performer on both sides of the ice this year.

“She blocks every shot … she’s a great two-way player and does a lot for the team,” Leonoff said. “It’s great to have people like her who work so hard and get the results for it.”

Union will also be looking to recover tonight, as it brings into the matchup a seven-game losing streak in which it has scored just four goals.

Forward Kathryn Tomaselli leads Union in scoring with 11 goals, almost a quarter of the team’s 46 on the season.

Despite the Dutchwomen’s overall inefficiency on offense, their power play unit is fifth in the NCAA with a 19 percent success rate. Twenty-one of the team’s goals have come on the power play.

“Union always shows up,” Leonoff said. “They always brings the effort, and they can be sneaky.”

RPI’s defense has continued to be effective since the matchup in November, with 2.33 goals allowed per game this season to Yale’s 3.00.

The Bulldogs have the offensive advantage going in, however, scoring 2.35 goals per game while the Engineers have averaged 2.15.

The Engineers will also be fighting for a playoff spot in the matchup. They are currently in playoff contention only because of a tiebreaker with Dartmouth.

“They’re both good teams, so we have to be ready, but we’ve had a really good week of practice,” Tomimoto said. “I’m very excited for the weekend.”

Yale will square off against Union tonight at 7:00, and against Rensselaer tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.

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