The Yale women’s hockey team was one double-overtime goal away from moving on to the semifinals of the ECAC playoff tournament, but in the end it will be No. 5 Harvard advancing to the next round to face No. 6 Cornell next weekend.
The Bulldogs (9–16–7, 7–11–7 ECAC) went up 1–0 in the series with a 3–2 double-overtime victory on Friday, but Harvard (23–5–4, 18–4–3) turned the tables the next day and won by the same score, also in double overtime. Harvard took the rubber game yesterday, 4–0, with one of the goals scored on an empty net at the end of the contest.
The series ended an historic season for a steadily improving Yale women’s hockey program. The Bulldogs finished with their best conference record since 2008, made the postseason for the first time since that year and won their first playoff game since 2005.
“The effort was there, but we just couldn’t find a way to bury the puck and Harvard could,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said in an email. “We had a great team and a great season this year compared to previous years.”
Forward Janelle Ferrara ’16 netted the game-winner on the power play Friday to end almost 100 minutes of hockey. She was assisted by defender Kate Martini ’16 and forward Jackie Raines ’15. Harvard forward Miye D’Oench returned the favor the next night, tying the series with her second goal of the game.
Goaltender Jaimie Leonoff ’15 was a major reason why the Bulldogs were able to skate so closely with their rivals. On Friday and Saturday, Leonoff turned in two career performances with 55 and 53 saves, respectively.
“[Leonoff] played unbelievably this weekend,” Haddad said. “She came up with some really huge saves that kept the score even and gave us a lot of momentum … Jaimie battled through a lot of injuries this weekend and still put up an incredible performance. It just goes to show you how unbelievable of an athlete she is.”
Leonoff’s play in Game One narrowly one-upped the performance of Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmeyer, the Ivy Co-Player of the Year, who stopped 45 of the 48 shots she faced. Brianna Laing replaced Maschmeyer for the latter two games of the series.
The Bulldogs came out slowly in the opening game, putting just five shots on Maschmeyer in the first period, while the Crimson poured 15 on Leonoff.
Harvard also out-shot Yale 14–9 in the second period, but Yale came away with the advantage in goals, as the score was 2–1 after two thanks to goals by Raines and Haddad. Raines would either score or assist on all three Yale goals Friday night.
Harvard tied the game early in the third period, and it took 54 more minutes of hockey to decide a winner. The tables turned offensively by the end of the game, as Yale out-shot its rival 17–8 in the second overtime period.
The Bulldogs continued their momentum the next afternoon, as forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 scored early in the first period, her first goal since scoring for Switzerland in the bronze medal game of the Olympics.
Yale killed off three penalties over the first two frames, including one 5-on-3 Harvard power play late in the first. Harvard killed off three of its own, and neither team could score for the remainder of the first or second periods.
Harvard’s D’Oench scored to tie the game in the third, firing a slapshot into the net while Leonoff was screened by another forward. Staenz retaliated five minutes later with her second goal of the game, but two minutes later Harvard tied the game again.
Yet another grueling overtime period followed, and D’Oench eventually won the game for her team with a goal off of a rebounded shot.
“We had chances to bury the game on Saturday and couldn’t capitalize on it,” Haddad said. “Harvard found a way in the last bit to tie it, and then it was anyone’s game in overtime. All weekend both teams had chances to score.”
After firing 48 shots at Harvard the night before, the Bulldogs tallied just 34 in the second game, while the Crimson had 56 in 84 minutes of play.
Harvard’s offense seemed to show fatigue in the final game, however, putting just 27 shots on Leonoff. The Bulldogs out-shot the Crimson with 30, but Laing stopped all of those. Three of Harvard’s shots got by Leonoff before a fourth went in on an empty net.
“I think we had legs, but sometimes the bounces just don’t go your way,” captain and defender Tara Tomimoto ’14 said in an email. “We definitely outplayed them in the last two periods but they found a way to finish.”
“We came out flat on Sunday, and they took advantage of that, but we came out really strong in the second and third,” Haddad said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t put one in even though we played so well in the second half of the game.”
The game marked the end of Yale hockey for the team’s seniors — Tomimoto and forwards Patricia McGauley ’14, Paige Decker ’14 and Ashley Dunbar ’14. Decker and Dunbar both missed the end of the season due to injury.
The four seniors have appeared in a combined 335 games in their Yale careers.
“It’s been an incredible honor,” Tomimoto said about captaining the Bulldogs this season. “This team played their hearts out tonight and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Harvard will play No. 6 Cornell next weekend at Clarkson.