In what appears to be its trademark this season, the Yale women’s ice hockey team went from a winning effort to a lackluster performance during away games against the University of Vermont and Dartmouth over the weekend of the Yale-Harvard football game.
The Bulldogs (3-4-2, 1-1-0 ECAC) notched their first Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) victory in a 3-1 drubbing of lowly Vermont (3-9-1, 0-4-0 ECAC) at the Gutterson Fieldhouse on Nov. 21.
Mired in the basement of the ECAC standings with the worst record in the league, the Catamounts gave Yale a scare by scoring the first goal of the game. Rookie Marla Straight connected on a tape-to-tape pass with Kattie Anderson in front of Yale netminder Sarah Love ’06 and Anderson slapped the puck past Love’s shoulder at 6:45 of the first period. Seventy-five seconds later, Yale answered with a game-tying goal when center Kelsey Johnson ’07 assisted right wing Lisa Jacque ’06 with a shot from the side.
The Elis grew stronger as the game continued. With great individual effort, left wing Sheila Zingler ’07 scored an unassisted goal to put Yale up for good at 9:30 of the second period. Zingler circled the net, crashed the crease and chipped the puck over the stick of Vermont goaltender Kami Cote for the game-winning goal.
Yale iced the game in the waning minutes of the third period when forward Kristin Savard ’07 added a power-play goal thanks to Kelsey Johnson’s second assist of the game. Although Vermont pulled its goaltender for a sixth attacker with 1:15 remaining, it could not bridge the gap in the 3-1 score. The Bulldogs outshot Vermont 30-22 and 12-5 in the final period.
Despite a victory, the contest left a bittersweet taste for some Yale players.
“We were obviously happy to win the game, but I don’t think we came out in the beginning of the game as strong as we could have,” captain Kristin Kattleman ’04 said. “I’ve seen our team play better than we did against Vermont. We obviously played well enough to win, but we all knew we could have played better.”
While playing less-than-perfect hockey did not stop Yale from beating the worst team in the ECAC, the Bulldogs could not get away with a poor performance against the best — Dartmouth — on Nov. 22.
In a game where first-period play proved crucial, the Big Green (8-1-0, 4-0-0 ECAC) dominated the Elis with a lopsided 6-2 victory. Dartmouth owned the scoreboard in the first 20 minutes, racing off to a 3-0 lead on the strength of two goals from Tiffany Hagge and one from Meagan Walton.
“Before the game, we knew we had to come out really tough and be pumped and ready to play,” Kattleman said. “We were really excited to play, but we were almost scared of [Dartmouth] when the game began.”
Just as it had fewer than 24 hours earlier against Vermont, Yale responded with an aggressive surge in the second period. Forward Jenna Spring ’07 — the Elis’ points leader with 2 goals and 5 assists this season — scored the first of her two goals 3:39 into the period to bridge the deficit to 3-1. But Yale’s comeback was undermined by unanswered Dartmouth goals from Danielle Grundy and Sarah Clark at 10:38 and 15:38, respectively.
Yale replaced Love with Nicolette Franck ’04 in the net to begin the third period, but it made little difference. Hagge completed her hat trick and Dartmouth ran the score to 6-1 before Spring added a short-handed tally with less than two minutes left in the game. Spring’s two goals came from only 13 Yale shots taken on net throughout the game. By contrast, Dartmouth peppered Love and Franck with 40 shots.
“We are usually aggressive, but in that game we were hesitant and almost in awe of them,” Kattleman said. “We weren’t doing the little things like clearing [opposing] players from the front of our net and [not] allowing them to score from the wide wing. I think if we concentrated on our game, we could have kept the score closer than it was.”
Polar performances have defined the season for the Bulldogs. In eight games up to and including the Dartmouth match, Yale recorded no consecutive wins or losses. But Friday’s 3-2 loss at Princeton gives Yale its first losing streak of the season.
“We come out flat a lot which is something we really need work on,” Spring said. “We are just really inconsistent with our starts. We went into Vermont with more confidence. [Dartmouth] was a little more intimidating and we’re a young team who hasn’t seen their competition yet and it definitely played a factor.”