Two seemingly different Yale women’s hockey teams traveled to upstate New York to face St. Lawrence this weekend.
Unfortunately for head coach John Marchetti and the rest of the Bulldogs (6-13-2, 2-8-0 ECAC-N), neither one was able to upset the No. 6 Saints (17-7-2, 9-1-0) in back-to-back games, falling 5-2 Saturday following a 6-1 defeat Friday night. Despite playing drastically better hockey in the second game, the Bulldogs were unable to overcome the Saints’ deep roster.
“That is the best team we’ve seen this year, I think, as far as balance,” Marchetti said. “From their number one forward to their number 12, they are very deep.”
Special teams lapses plagued the Bulldogs in both contests. Both squads were penalized often, with St. Lawrence racking up 18 penalties and Yale 14. This upset the flow of the game, and Yale’s previously strong power play was stagnant, failing to produce any goals.
In the first game, the Saints converted three of five power-play opportunities and also recorded a short-handed goal late in the third period.
“Because many of our power play people also are on the penalty kill, it hurt us from that standpoint because they logged so much ice time,” Marchetti said.
After a long and snowy bus ride, the team came out noticeably flat and tentative Friday against a team that had gone to the NCAA finals one year ago.
“It almost felt like it was our first game of the season,” Marchetti said. “We played nervous and we were a half step slow.”
But the Saints did not capitalize on Yale’s hesitations until midway through the second period, when Amanda Sargeant fed the puck from behind the net to Colleen Coakley, who converted at 12:29 to trigger a run of five unanswered St. Lawrence goals.
Captain Katie Hirte ’02 had an impressive performance in net, stopping 25 Saints shots in the first two periods alone. Yale had recorded only eight shots entering the final frame.
Trailing only 2-0, the early minutes of the third period were disastrous for the Bulldogs. Sara Simard scored twice in the first 5:01 of the period before she assisted Jessica Wilson 21 seconds later to extend the lead to 5-0.
Sara Wood ’02 spoiled Saints goaltender Rachel Barrie’s bid for a shutout, scoring from the slot following strong forechecking by the Bulldogs. Wood leads the team in goals with 12.
The Saints’ final goal of the 6-1 game came at 15:27 during a Yale power play.
“As the game kept on going, we just could not seem to find the energy or focus to play our game,” goaltender Nicolette Franck ’04 said. “We played deep in our defensive end, leaving people open in front of the net or in the slot. We did not look organized on the ice or play as aggressive as we could for the puck.”
With that in mind, the Elis concentrated on improving their specialty teams and their work against the boards before their Saturday rematch with the Saints.
“We wanted to stay out of the box, but we really didn’t do that,” Marchetti said. “My biggest concern was going into the game with our energy level and our focus back up, and even though we didn’t win, I think that they felt their performance was better — they were a little bit more aggressive in all areas.”
Despite their stronger play and better preparation, the Bulldogs still gave up three first-period goals, with Gina Kingsbury beginning the scoring just 1:01 into the game when she took a long outlet pass from Whitney Carbone and hit the top right-hand corner of the net over Franck.
Jess Wilson extended the Saint’s lead to 2-0 after scoring high and left on an assist from Rebecca Russell at 14:41. Powers scored the period’s third goal after Coakley’s shot from the point was saved by Franck.
After the first intermission, the Elis came out fired up. Seven minutes into the second period, strong forechecking by Keely MacMillan ’05 and Tara O’Donnell ’04 left Erin Duggan ’05 high in the slot, where she beat goaltender Lea Armendariz with a wrist shot on her low stick side to narrow the Saints’ lead to 3-1. The goal was Duggan’s eighth of the season.
At 11:51, Rory Neuner ’03 fed Deanna McDevitt ’03 off a transition play, and the junior winger walked in alone on a breakaway to score her seventh goal of the season, low to the stick side of Armendariz, bringing Yale within one.
“We were playing a certain forecheck that seemed to be working and both goals were aggressive,” Marchetti said. “They weren’t soft goals, we worked hard for them.”
But that was the closest the Elis would come to upsetting the Saints. A power-play goal by Kingsbury late in the second period deflated the Bulldog comeback. Yale remained scoreless for the rest of the game.
The Saints added a final score, and the final 9:20 was rife with penalties, with the two teams combining for eight offenses but no power-play goals.
Franck finished the game with 30 saves in goal.
Despite the second loss, the team was encouraged by their improved efforts.
“I think in the second game we were better prepared mentally and knew that we could play better,” Duggan said. “The second game was much closer although the score maybe doesn’t show it.”
This weekend, the Bulldogs will return home to face ECAC opponents Colgate Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Cornell Saturday at 4:00 p.m.