The women’s hockey team completed a weekend of top ten competition, and, despite only collecting one point in the standings, it was a huge confidence booster for the young Elis.
Saturday at Schneider Arena, the Bulldogs managed to keep nationally ranked No. 6 Providence off the scoreboard until midway through the second period, despite three penalties. The Friars capitalized on their fourth power play eight minutes into the period, and they added another power play goal five minutes later, but goalie Sarah Love ’06 did not allow any more of the 44 shots she faced past her.
Forward Deena Caplette ’06 tallied her third goal of the season at the beginning of the third period to cut the lead to 2-1, but an empty-net goal for Providence sealed the Elis’ fate.
“We started slow and picked up some dumb penalties,” Caplette, the team’s leading scorer, said. “If we had played the way we did in the third period for the whole game, we would have won.”
Rookie forward Sheila Zingler ’07 also said the Elis let one get away from them in Providence.
“After the third period at Providence, we wanted another chance,” Zingler said. “We can play with anybody if we play our system correctly, and we could have beaten them.”
The Bulldogs took the intensity and focus from Saturday’s third period into Ingalls Rink yesterday against No. 9 New Hampshire. The first period was a feeling out process for both teams, head coach Hilary Witt said. The Bulldogs had trouble clearing the defensive zone, and they gave up a power play on a roughing call with just under five minutes left in the period. Twenty-four seconds later, New Hampshire scored on a rebound from the low slot. The Elis had an offensive flurry with one minute remaining, but New Hampshire goalie Maghan Grahn held fast.
“The goal was on a breakdown in the forecheck,” Witt said. “In the first intermission I told the girls, ‘We are in this game. We have just got to keep battling.'”
The Elis levied a lightning quick strike after the second period’s opening face-off. Forward Natalie Babony ’06 drove the puck down the right side, creating a three-on-two mismatch in favor of the Bulldogs, and centered it to Caplette, who lit the lantern.
“Babony was going wide, so I had to charge the net,” Caplette said. “I thought about staying back, but I went to the net and she got me the puck. I was in the right place at the right time.”
This was Caplette’s fifth point in the past three games.
“Caplette is playing the way I always knew she would,” Witt said. “She is playing smart and I could not ask for more.”
The Elis were on the attack for the first half of the period but could not muster a second goal. After the ten minute mark, New Hampshire began to apply pressure on the Yale goal.
Nina Resor ’07 used all 5 feet and 11 inches of her frame to thwart a New Hampshire two-on-one break away, and her Eli teammates sacrificed their bodies to block numerous shots near the crease.
With four minutes left in the period, Love sprawled over the ice, making a snow angel save a la Dominik Hasek, flashing the skills that earned her team MVP honors last year. She turned away all fourteen of New Hampshire’s shots to preserve the 1-1 tie going into the final frame.
“If Sarah sees the puck, she will make the save,” Witt said.
New Hampshire turned the tables on the Elis in the third period and came out of the gates with an offensive threat of its own. Love got just enough of her glove on the shot to send it off the top of the crossbar and into the corner. New Hampshire kept the heat on Yale’s defense, forcing the Bulldogs to play long shifts. The Elis had to resort to icing the puck to execute line changes but held strong in the face of nine New Hampshire shots to preserve the tie and send the game to overtime.
“I was excited about how they handled getting caught in the zone,” Witt said. “It showed a lot of poise.”
In the five-minute overtime, Witt experimented with different line combinations, playing Christina Sharun ’07 with Kristin Savard ’07 and Caplette, in an effort to create some offense. The new combination drew a penalty with 1:41 left in the game. Witt called a time out and played four forwards for the remainder of the game. Kelsey Johnson ’07 was turned away on the doorstep with ten seconds remaining, and the Elis came away with a tie.
While not collecting a win this weekend, Witt and associate head coach Harry Rosenholtz said they were pleased with their squad’s performance.
“We are building fast, and I do not think it is unrealistic that we could be in the top ten at the end of the season,” Rosenholtz said.
As for the recent goal drought, Caplette said, “We will learn how to finish. Right now we are getting our confidence.”
The Elis return to the road for their next two contests, at Vermont Nov. 21 and at No. 2 Dartmouth Nov. 22. The Bulldogs’ next home game will be Nov. 28 against No. 10 Princeton.
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