For the women’s hockey team, a split weekend is nothing to write home about — unless the weekend included breaking a school record and renewing home-ice hopes for the league playoffs.
For the third consecutive weekend, the Elis (13-14-1, 11-7-1 ECAC) dropped Friday night’s contest but rebounded with a shutout the next afternoon. This Saturday’s victim was Vermont (5-24-3, 3-15-0), which fell 3-0 to the Bulldogs. Friday’s loss was a tough 3-2 defeat at the hands of No. 3 Dartmouth (23-3-0, 16-2-0).
With the win over the Catamounts, the Elis kept the chance alive of gaining home-ice advantage for the first round of the league playoffs, which take place at the beginning of March. Yale currently stands in fourth in the ECAC, four points ahead of No. 9 Princeton and Brown. Both the Tigers and the Bears dropped their respective matchups on Saturday, preserving the Elis’ hopes. Yale will face Princeton at Ingalls Rink Wednesday, and if the Bulldogs can walk away with a win or tie in their regular season finale, the team’s home-ice desires will be realized.
“By winning against Vermont, we put ourselves in position to control our own fate,” goaltender Sarah Love ’06 said. “If we win or tie on Wednesday, we get home ice in the playoffs.”
Beating Vermont, perennial inhabitants of the ECAC’s cellar, may seem mundane when it is compared to the Elis’ more outstanding achievements this year — a program-best start, a program-best winning streak, a historic defeat of Harvard — but the victory earned the Bulldogs more than just another tally in the win column. With the triumph, Yale broke the program record of twelve single-season wins, set by the 1985-86 and 2003-04 squads.
“The win record is nice to set,” Love said. “It shows the development this team has gone through the last few years.”
Forward Deena Caplette ’06 led Yale’s attack on the Catamounts. Caplette opened the scoring at 10:49 into the first period off assists from forward Sheila Zingler ’07 and captain Erin Duggan ’05.
Caplette notched her second goal of the game with just under five minutes left in the second period. Forwards Kristin Savard ’07 and Zingler found Caplette in front of the Vermont goal, and Caplette knocked another one past Catamount goaltender Kami Cote, whose 28 saves for the afternoon were not enough to give her team’s struggling offense a chance to tie.
Zingler destroyed Vermont’s hope of a comeback when she found the open net with under a minute to play to increase the Elis’ victory margin to three goals. Love had 13 saves in the win, which was Yale’s third shutout in five games.
“Against Vermont we came out strong and played a solid mental game,” forward Christina Sharun ’07 said. “Our puck movement was great and we got the puck on net a lot, which gave us a number of great opportunities.”
The Elis also put in a memorable performance against powerhouse Dartmouth. The Big Green dealt Yale a 9-1 loss early in the season, and the Bulldogs showed up ready to show Dartmouth they would not be walked over twice.
Savard opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the match. Ann-Renee Guillemette ’08 and Caplette combined to assist on the play. At 13:50 into the first period, Dartmouth’s Tiffany Hagge retaliated, with help from Meredith Batchel and Amy Cobb, to even the score entering the intermission.
At 8:08 into the second period, Duggan found Savard in front of Big Green goaltender Kate Lane and Savard found the back of the net to regain the lead for Yale. Dartmouth’s Nicole Ruta evened the score with less than a minute to play in the second period.
Despite a strong effort by goaltender Shivon Zilis ’08, who finished with 29 saves — 10 in the third period — the Elis were not able to keep the Dartmouth offense quiet. Krista Dornfried scored for the Big Green halfway through the third period to put Dartmouth ahead for the first time during the matchup. The Elis were unable to recover the deficit, and the Big Green grabbed the 3-2 victory.
“The team played well together [against Dartmouth],” Duggan said. “Just everything we have been working on in practice seemed to be going well for us that day. We needed to get more shots on net and clean up our defensive zone a little more, but overall it was a great effort.”
The Elis will need to carry over this weekend’s success to Wednesday, when Yale takes on Princeton for its last home game of the regular season. With the outcome determining who gets home-ice advantage, the matchup takes on a new level of importance and intensity.
“[Home-ice advantage] is definitely something that is giving the team the extra excitement, extra drive to win on Wednesday,” Duggan said. “Also being Senior Night, I hope the team comes ready to give the seniors a great effort for a memorable game.”
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