After losing two league games to Harvard and Brown last weekend, the women’s ice hockey team will play a non-league weekend that could provide much-needed confidence.
The Bulldogs (5-9-1, ECAC-Northern 2-5-0) will travel to Boston to face Boston College (3-11-3) Saturday at noon before facing off against No. 3 Northeastern (16-2) Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Both games will be held at Northeastern.
For Yale, the weekend provides the potential to break out of a slump in which it has only won once in six games.
Several players said that the Elis are concentrating on playing good hockey for the entire game after last weekend’s loss to Harvard, in which Yale’s late third period collapse allowed the Crimson to open up the score in what had been a close game.
“No matter how strong our opponents may be, there is still 60 minutes of hockey to be played against them,” defender Kaitlin Porcaro ’03 said. “We have to play until the end and keep our intensity level high the entire time.”
Despite the league losses, several highlights came out of the past several games. Sara Wood ’02 contributed four goals in the Bulldog’s four games, and Nicole Symington ’05 and Erin Duggan ’05 continued their offensive production, which has been consistent throughout the season.
In addition, the Eli power play is beginning to come together. After having recorded only two power-play goals in the first 12 games, the Bulldogs have scored four of their last eight goals during the man advantage.
“We have the talent to play with any team in this league,” said forward Deanna McDevitt ’03, who is tied with Duggan for second on the team in points with 16. “Unlike years in the past, where teams would just overpower us, I really believe that this year’s team has just as much talent, if not more, than almost all the teams in our league.”
But head coach John Marchetti said that he would like to develop a stronger second power-play unit to complement the first.
“A power-play line is only out there for half the time,” he said. “We haven’t had an opportunity to get a second group together, which we need to do when we get a couple of people healthy.”
Captain Katie Hirte ’02 and Nicolette Franck ’04, who have split time in net, have been extremely strong for Yale, with a combined 428 saves and .890 save percentage.
“Katie Hirte played a tremendous game against Harvard,” said Wallis Finger ’04, who returned several weeks ago from an injury. Hirte made 39 saves in that game.
Despite the solid effort in net, however, the team continues to allow too many goals.
“We’ve given up 24 goals in the last three games,” Marchetti said. “You can’t win with those type of scores.”
Porcaro added that the team needed to focus in order to better its defense and not let opponents dictate the course of play.
The Elis have been practicing breaking the puck out of their defensive zone while also working on their support system and on getting faster and more accurate shots and passes.
This will be the second time the Bulldogs have faced the Boston College this season. On November 25, an injury-plagued Yale lineup fell to the Eagles, 3-0. But the two teams seem to match up, as they have had similar results against common opponents.
Boston College is led by its freshman goaltender, Lisa Davis, who was recently named ECAC-Eastern Rookie of the Week. She is averaging 39 saves per game.
Northeastern will pose a bigger challenge for the Bulldogs. The Huskies are 16-2-0 and ranked third, behind Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth, in two different polls. Most recently, Northeastern completed a weekend sweep of Maine to maintain a tie for first place with Niagara in the ECAC-E.
“Northeastern has turned out to be surprisingly a really good team in that league,” Marchetti said. “They found some chemistry and built on early successes, and their confidence has carried them a long way.”
Against Northeastern, the Bulldogs will have to overcome its team size deficiency. The team is extremely small compared to many other hockey schools. In addition, two defenders for the Bulldogs, Kirstin Wick ’05 and Erica Hockinson ’04, will be out with injuries.
“Everyone on our bench is an important part of our team, and because our team is so small, we need to find the energy to play well for the whole game,” McDevitt said. “We have to stop hesitating and just play to win.”