The women’s hockey team, guaranteed a berth in the ECAC-North playoffs, is eager to turn heads and create some surprises in the upcoming tournament.
But first, the Bulldogs (9-15-3, 3-10-1 ECAC-N) have two final regular season games to take care of.
After losing to Harvard (14-10-2, 7-5-2) and Brown (18-7-2, 10-3-1) earlier this season at home, the Elis will be on the road in their final scheduled weekend to avenge the losses and create momentum for the postseason.
“We want to play well because we know it will carry over into next weekend’s playoff games,” said captain Katie Hirte ’02.
Yale is currently in seventh place in the ECAC-N with 7 points. Two wins this weekend, combined with two Cornell losses, would put them in a tie for points with the sixth-place Big Red, but the Bulldogs would still be seeded seventh because Cornell has the head-to-head advantage.
Colgate, which holds the final slot with six points, could leapfrog over the Elis with a strong weekend against Cornell, but the Bulldogs would come out on top in the event of a tie in the standings. Either way, though, Yale will be playing past Sunday, and can play the role of spoiler this weekend by beating Brown.
“These games actually have some major playoff implications for us,” said forward Sara Wood ’02. “Not only can we keep Brown from moving up in the standings, we can build momentum for ourselves which inevitably will help us in the playoffs.”
The team’s first test, however, will be against rival Harvard. The Crimson, usually a top contender in the league, has played a sub-par season by their standards. They enter the tournament seeded fifth regardless of this weekend’s schedule, but they are still looking for a repeat victory over the Elis.
“They’re a good team and they played us well last time,” said Harvard head coach Katey Stone. “Obviously a Harvard-Yale game will be a good battle.”
Led by freshman forward Nicole Corriero, who has recorded 27 goals and 21 assists in 26 games, the Cantabs are coming off a tough 3-1 loss to Brown and, like Yale, looking to rebound in time for the playoffs.
“I think we’re treating it with the same level of importance, almost as if it were the playoffs,” said forward Wallis Finger ’04 of the weekend.
Yale may be able to benefit if Harvard looks past the Friday game to its game against Princeton Saturday. The Crimson were previously upset in overtime by the Tigers in a 4-3 game.
“That’s an important game for us, as well, since they surprised us last time,” Stone said.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Nicole Symington ’05, who injured her shoulder two weeks ago, is questionable for this weekend. Symington’s absence affects the Bulldogs’ game strategy because the forward, who has scored 10 goals and 14 assists this weekend, is an integral part of Yale’s power play and penalty kill units.
When the two teams battled Jan. 12, the 7-2 score was decidedly in favor of Harvard, but the game was much closer than it seemed.
“We simply didn’t play 60 minutes of good hockey in that game,” said Yale head coach John Marchetti.
Yale entered the third period trailing only 3-2, but defensive lapses led to four Crimson goals in the closing period, including three in the final seven minutes.
“Clearly anytime you play Harvard its is a very emotional game, and hopefully we’ll be able to use that emotion to our advantage this time,” Wood said.
Yale’s first game against Brown was not as close, as the Bulldogs never really had a chance in the 9-3 loss. Brown killed the Elis by playing forward Katie Guay behind the Yale defenders, and it paid off — Guay finished the game with five goals, including three within a three minute period.
“They just outskated us in that entire game,” Marchetti said. “We’ll be prepared for the floater this time, although I don’t know if they’ll try to run it again,”
Brown is currently in third place in the ECAC-N, but Princeton trails them by just a point. Sophomore goaltender Katie Germain was this week’s ECAC Goaltender of the Week, marking the third straight week that a Bear has been honored by the league. Senior Kristy Zamora leads the team in scoring with 41 points.
“I think we are looking to go in and play good hockey and hopefully come away with a win in at least one of the games this weekend,” Hirte said.
Forward Deanna McDevitt ’04 agreed.
“If we come out hard, we have the opportunity to take them by surprise,” she said.