The Yale women’s hockey team came out of a key weekend of ECAC play with just one point after falling to Union and tying Rensselaer at home.
Union scored two power-play goals en route to a 3–1 victory on Friday, and a RPI goal in the final minute of the game the next day gave the Engineers a 2–2 tie.
Although the results were not what the Bulldogs (7–13–5, 5–8–5 ECAC) were hoping for, a loss by Rensselaer (10–16–3, 6–10–2) on Friday and two Dartmouth defeats allowed them to remain in seventh in the conference standings.
“Losing this weekend puts us in a right spot for playoffs,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said in an email. “There’s more pressure knowing that we haven’t definitely clinched a playoff spot yet, but hopefully that will drive us forward and motivate us to win the games we have left.”
The two games were physical battles with a combined 52 minutes of penalties, including five roughing calls.
The penalties led to two Union power play goals on Friday and a pair of the same for Yale on Saturday.
“[Union and Rensselaer are] very physical teams,” Haddad said. “Some of the calls we didn’t deserve and others we did. They play gritty and sometimes a little dirty, and we didn’t want to let them walk all over us, so we pushed back.”
The Dutchwomen (9–20–1, 4–14–0) entered the game on a seven-game losing streak, but ranked fifth in the country on the power play with a 19 percent success rate.
That special teams unit would prove to be the difference on Friday, as Union took a 2–0 lead in the second period, with one of the goals on a 5-on-3 advantage and the other on a 5-on-4. On both power plays, Union had fired three shots at goalie Jaimie Leonoff ’15 before finding the net.
“Their power play is one of the best in the country, and I think that’s primarily due to their system,” defender Kate Martini ’16 said. “They have a different system than most teams use, and as a result of that a lot of teams, us included, don’t practice against it.”
Union added more insurance midway through the third period when forward Stefanie Thomson netted her second goal of the game.
The Elis missed an opportunity to score on a power play shortly after, but Haddad put Yale on the scoreboard later in the period when the teams were skating 4-on-4. Haddad’s goal, assisted by forward Janelle Ferrara ’16 and captain Tara Tomimoto ’14, was her sixth in nine games and tied her with forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 for top scorer on the team.
Leonoff left the ice to give the Bulldogs an extra skater with two minutes remaining in the period, and a Union penalty gave Yale a 6-on-4 opportunity in the final 37 seconds, but Yale could not tack on any more goals.
“We just didn’t play 60 minutes of hockey,” Martini said. “We came on really strong in the third period, but if we don’t come out in the first two and play our best, then that’s what happens.”
Haddad added that the team played individually rather than as a cohesive unit.
The Bulldogs outshot the Dutchwomen by one shot, just as they had done when the two teams faced off in November. In that game, however, it was Yale coming away with the victory, 6–4.
Yale again allowed the first goal against RPI on Saturday, 12 minutes into the opening period. The Elis had just killed off a power play when an Engineer shot bounced off Leonoff’s pads into the air, and forward Laura Horwood swooped in to sneak the rebound into the right side of the net.
Both teams succeeded in killing power plays later in the period, but two successive Rensselaer penalties early in the second gave Yale a 5-on-3 for a minute and a half of play.
Just as the first penalty was ending, forward Jackie Raines ’15 received a pass from forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 and shot it off the right post to tie the game at one.
Neither team could score until the second half of the third period, when a series of penalties gave Yale another power play opportunity.
The Bulldogs were a minute into a 5-on-4 advantage when an RPI defender was called for body checking, and an altercation behind the net caused Haddad and another RPI player to be penalized for roughing. The penalties cancelled out, and Yale kept its one-man advantage with three Engineer players crowded in the penalty box.
Just 16 seconds later, Martini took a slapshot from near the blue line and sniped the puck into the top-right corner of the net, just above the outstretched glove of goalie Kelly O’Brien.
The Engineers’ strategy to pull O’Brien with a minute and a half remaining worked in their favor, as forward Alexa Gruschow got the puck past Leonoff with 43.1 seconds left on the clock.
In the five-minute overtime period, Yale could not put a single shot on net and was shorthanded for the final two minutes after a body checking penalty. The Engineers could only manage one shot, and the game ended without a winner decided.
“Both games this weekend, we had periods where we completely dominated Union and RPI, and then also periods where the opposite held true,” Haddad said. “We didn’t play consistently, but I think that our game against RPI was an improvement from the night before against Union.”
The Bulldogs will play at Quinnipiac and Princeton this weekend.