After a record-breaking season last year in which the women’s hockey team completed its transformation from a perennial league laughingstock to a program ranked tenth in the nation, hopes were high going into the Elis’ opening weekend.

But the Bulldogs (0-1-1, 0-0-1 ECACHL) disappointed in the second annual Nutmeg Classic, tying Quinnipiac in overtime, 2-2, Friday night at Ingalls Rink and losing, 3-0, to UConn on Saturday in North Branford. Although the Quinnipiac game was recorded as an official tie, for tournament purposes a shootout was held after the overtime period, which the Bobcats won, 2-1. Quinnipiac went on to win the tournament between the three Connecticut teams, defeating the Huskies, 3-2, in Sunday’s final game.

“It was a wake-up call for our team,” defender Danielle Kozlowski ’09 said. “We did so well last year that we were expecting to come out and dominate this weekend, which we didn’t do because we didn’t work hard enough.”

The Elis started strong, taking 13 shots on goal by midway through the first period compared to three generated by the Bobcats. But the game remained scoreless until forward Deena Caplette ’06 scored with 7:01 remaining in the second period. Yale went up to a 2-0 lead when forward Kristen Stupay ’09 scored her first collegiate goal five minutes into the third period.

But with eight minutes left to play, Bobcats forward Kathryn Dallimore took advantage of a power play to get a shot past Bulldogs goalkeeper Sarah Love ’06. Three minutes later, Quinnipiac forward Hayley McMeekin evened the score with a shorthanded goal. In overtime, Love stopped all three Bobcats shots, but Yale did not even get a shot off on Bobcats netminder Sarah Craig. With the 2-2 tie on the books, the Elis were only able to make one penalty shot out of five in the shootout, but Quinnipiac forward Antoinette Maldonado and McMeekin both prevailed to give the Bobcats the tournament advantage.

Yale players had only a week of practice in preparation for Friday’s game, which was Quinnipiac’s first as a member of the ECACHL. The Bobcats had already played six regular season games to Yale’s zero. Several Elis said they were capable of winning, but did not feel confident in their play because they had spent so little time on the ice.

“We were at a little bit of a disadvantage,” defender Sheila Zingler ’07 said. “But we didn’t fight hard like we were the underdogs. Last year we were always the team everyone thought was going to lose. We had to work our butts off to prove them wrong.”

Saturday the Bulldogs traveled to UConn, where they were unable to muster the offensive fire in the first period they had displayed against the Bobcats the day before. UConn forward Leslie Hurlburt scored 3:29 into the first period, in which the Huskies outshot Yale 13-7. In the second period, a tripping penalty on the Elis led to another goal, this one by UConn forward Kristin Russell on a power play. The Bulldogs pulled together as a unit on offense in the third period, but they could not get any of their 18 shots on goal past UConn goaltender Kaitlyn Shain, who finished the game with 30 saves. Huskies defender Elizabeth Gallinaro put the nail in the coffin by scoring with ten minutes remaining.

Although Zingler was disappointed with the team’s results in the Nutmeg Classic, she said it was a good weekend to get out of the way.

“We don’t want a weekend like this in the middle of our season, but it was a good learning experience before the real games begin,” she said.

The Bulldogs will be on the road next weekend, seeking to recapture their status as a league powerhouse with a pair of games against Cornell and Colgate.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”15606″ ]