Having dropped five of their last six games due in large part to their third period defensive woes, the Bulldogs are in search of a complete game.

Going into the final frame Friday, the Elis were tied with the University of Vermont, and entering the third on Saturday, the Bulldogs trailed Dartmouth by one goal.

Letdowns in the third caused the Bulldogs to give up six goals over the two games while only netting two.

“It was less poor third period play [and] more our team defense,” forward Christian Jensen ’06 said. “We sort of had some letdowns off and on throughout the weekend. [It] just happened to show up more in the third period.”

The end result was two extra marks in the “L” column.

“We are doing pretty well and the third period rolls around and the other team gets one goal on us and it kind of takes the wind out of our sails,” captain Vin Hellemeyer ’04 said. “Guys tend to sit back a little bit and that’s obviously hurting us.”

Two weeks ago against Harvard, the Elis had a 5-2 lead after two periods, but a nightmarish third led to a 7-5 loss. The following night against nationally ranked No. 13 Brown, Yale stayed with the Bears the entire way and were only down 2-1 heading into third. However, a lack offensive sparks and a few defensive mistakes by the Bulldogs cost them the game, 4-1.

While the Eli offense has been most potent in the final frame, scoring 32 goals, the defense has also been the most porous, allowing 45 goals.

The third period letdown against the Crimson was the only time the Bulldogs have relinquished a lead in the third to lose a game. But the Elis have suffered defeat three times after being tied after two periods and lost twice while being within striking distance — only one goal behind.

Against Dartmouth this weekend, Yale found themselves down 3-0 early in the second frame. With two goals in the second and Hellemeyer’s goal early in the third, the Bulldogs tied the game.

But Yale could not keep its momentum going. Only 49 seconds after the Elis knotted the score at three, Dartmouth regained the lead and never looked back. The Big Green converted on two power plays in the third to stretch its lead to three and eventually won by the score of 6-3.

“I don’t really know what you do to fix that,” Hellemeyer said. “But I think we just have to get it in our heads that we can’t sit back in the third period and we have to keep coming at them harder, otherwise we are going to keep losing games like that.”

The third period also brought penalty killing troubles for Yale this weekend.

Between the two games, the Elis played a man down six times in the first two periods, shutting down their opponents’ power play. In the third period Yale surrendered three power-play goals — one against UVM and two against Dartmouth — on five opportunities.

“We have been playing pretty even with teams at even strength,” defenseman Joe Zappala ’06 said. “We have been getting penalties and that has been killing us lately. We put teams on the power play and the have been taking advantage of it in the third period. We are going to have to sharpen up our defensive play and stay out of the box.”

As the Bulldogs head into their last two regular season games and the ECAC playoffs, they will be looking to improve their play late in games. The Elis have proven they can play with the best teams. Now they must prove they can beat these teams in the third period.

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