Of the eight teams that qualified for the ECAC women’s hockey playoff tournament, Yale could not have picked a better team to play in the first round than the No. 5 Harvard Crimson.
Despite Harvard’s status as the second-seeded team in the playoff, Yale’s rival is the only team in the tournament that has not beaten the Bulldogs at any point this season. Yale hopes to continue that streak in the best-of-three first round series, beginning tonight at Harvard.
“Winning this weekend would mean everything to us,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said in an email. “Unlike Harvard, we have nothing to lose this weekend, but it would be a first for everyone on our team and that would certainly mean a lot.”
When the Elis bested Harvard 2–0 in Cambridge earlier this season, in January, players on the team said Harvard had underestimated them. At that point, the Bulldogs were just beginning their best conference regular season in six years.
But Harvard knew what to expect when it came to Yale’s home ice last Saturday. In that game, the Bulldogs held the lead for a full two periods of play before Harvard scored in the final two minutes to tie the game at three.
“As much as we want to come out strong every game of the season, we have a special hatred for Harvard that really motivates us to work our hardest every time we match up against them,” Haddad said.
This weekend, Yale will be playing with all four of its top scorers for the first time since the win at Harvard on Jan. 11. Forward Jackie Raines ’15 missed two weeks due to injury after that game, and forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 left to represent Switzerland at the 2014 Winter Olympics as soon as Raines returned.
After missing eight games of Yale hockey, Staenz is back, now carrying the honor of two Olympic goals and a bronze medal. Staenz will join linemates Haddad and forward Hanna Astrom ’16 in place of forward Stephanie Mock ’15, who was playing on that line while Staenz was gone.
“We still don’t have everyone back necessarily, but for those who are healthy it’s great to have more people in our lineup,” said head coach Joakim Flygh.
Raines has scored nine times in the 12 games that she has played this season, including four in Yale’s win over Princeton two weeks ago. Staenz has also scored nine goals in 17 games and was an All-Ivy Honorable Mention selection this year.
Also on Yale’s scoring leaderboard this season are forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 with 10 goals and Haddad with nine.
Harvard goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, who was just honored as Ivy League Co-Player of the Year yesterday, will continue to be a threat to the Eli offense. Maschmeyer is fourth in the nation with a .948 save percentage, but Yale has been able to bring that figure down to .912 in the two rivalry games this year.
“Any time you play a very good goaltender like Maschmeyer, you just need to make sure that you take her eyes away as much as you can,” Flygh said. “We’ve been able to do that, and that’s something we need to continue to do.”
The two rivals will face off tonight at 7:00 p.m., tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. and Sunday at 4:00 p.m. if necessary. The entire best-of-three series will take place in Cambridge.