The ECAC women’s hockey regular season will wind down this weekend, but the Bulldogs are just warming up.
Yale’s home matchups against No. 5 Harvard (20–4–3, 15–3–2 ECAC) and Dartmouth (7–18–1, 6–13–1) this weekend will mark its final two games before the first round of the playoffs begins next week.
“We want to be playing our best hockey by the time we get into the playoffs,” said forward Jamie Haddad ’16. “We had an okay weekend [last week] against Princeton and Quinnipiac, so we’re really hoping to use this weekend as a stepping stone to perfect everything we’ve been working on.”
The last time the Bulldogs (8–13–6, 6–8–6) faced the Crimson and Big Green, they split the weekend, but not in the way that most would expect. Yale fell 5–4 to Dartmouth, now ninth in the ECAC, before upsetting Harvard 2–0 the next night.
The win on the road was the first time Yale has defeated Harvard in Cambridge since 1981.
“They underestimated us the first game,” Haddad said. “In the past we haven’t really brought a good game to them, so I don’t think they were ready for it last time. They’ll be ready, and we’ll be ready for that.”
That weekend in January was the second weekend following the return of forward Jackie Raines ’15, who has been on fire recently with eight goals in 10 games. Raines tallied four against Princeton last Saturday.
The Cantabs have lost just two games since losing to Yale. In that span, they have averaged 3.09 goals scored and 1.81 goals allowed per game.
Much of the success of Harvard’s fourth-ranked defense can be attributed to goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, who is second in the nation with a .950 save percentage.
In addition to the historic rivalry between Yale and Harvard, a second rivalry will be present at the contest between the teams’ coaches.
Eli head coach Joakim Flygh served three years as an assistant at Harvard and left for Yale in 2010. Harvard interim head coach Maura Crowell, who is at the helm this year because head coach Katey Stone is coaching the USA women’s hockey team in Sochi, joined the Crimson coaching staff that same year.
Against Dartmouth, Yale will be looking for redemption after losing 5–4 in the final minute of the game in January.
The Bulldogs allowed five goals to an offense that ranks 30th out of the 36 teams in Division I with just 1.73 goals per game. Yale, by comparison, averages 2.41 goals per game, good for 18th in the nation.
“We’re going to have to play better defensively,” said captain and defender Tara Tomimoto ’14. “Last time we had a few major defensive errors, and I think that really cost us.”
The game will help only to determine playoff seeding for Yale, but Dartmouth will be fighting for more important matters, as it will need to erase a one-point gap behind Rensselaer in order to make the postseason.
Big Green forward Lindsey Allen, who scored two of Dartmouth’s goals in the last matchup against Yale, is the team’s leading scorer by far with 13 goals this season.
The Bulldogs also have a slight advantage defensively, entering the weekend averaging 2.96 goals allowed, while Dartmouth has allowed 3.12 goals per game.
Still, Haddad said Yale is trying not to let the statistics affect its mentality going in.
“In the past, we’ve come out with an attitude where we know that we’re better than them, and as a result we expect ourselves to win and don’t actually try,” Haddad said. “We’ve been thinking about it all week in practice, and we’re prepared to play as if they are Harvard, Clarkson, Cornell, anyone we could be playing in the playoffs.”
Yale will face Harvard at Ingalls Rink tonight at 7:00 p.m. and Dartmouth tomorrow at 4:00 p.m.