Hockey fans at Ingalls Rink know many of Tuesday night’s competitors well but have probably never seen the Elis in these unique circumstances.

The Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League All-Star team, which includes Yale forwards Deena Caplette ’06 and Kristin Savard ’07 as well as goalie Sarah Love ’06, faced off against the USA National Team and defender Helen Resor ’08 last night in the third game of Team USA’s Hilton Family Skate to 2006 Tour.

Joining the four Yale players on the two teams were many of the Bulldogs’ current and former ECAC rivals. Harvard defender Caitlin Cahow and forward Julie Chu helped knock the Yale women’s hockey team out of the ECACHL finals last season. Dartmouth defender Tiffany Hagge had three goals in two meetings with the Elis last year, both of which resulted in losses for Yale.

This time around, however, the challenge for the Elis was not to destroy their opponents, but to help them succeed.

“It’s weird playing with them for two reasons,” Resor said. “First, I’ve always looked up to girls like Julie Chu and [former Harvard forward] Angela Ruggiero. Second, they’re from Harvard, which is my biggest rival.”

The USA National Team constructed the tour in hopes of playing a wide variety of competition in preparation for the 2006 Olympics. The ECACHL All-Stars gave them some decent competition. The All-Stars lit up the scoreboard early in the game with a Sabrina Harbec (St. Lawrence) goal just 3:10 into the first period. Love denied eight Team USA shot attempts during the first period, and the National Team was ahead by just one goal going into the first break.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Caplette said. “We wanted to give them a challenge, and I think we did that.”

The decisive second period, during which the National Team pulled ahead 5-1, put Team USA out of reach of the ECAC All-Stars. With Harvard’s Ali Boe in goal for the All-Stars, Team USA found the back of the net three times, including two power play scores. Team USA’s special teams had a distinct advantage over the ECACHL All-Stars, who took the ice together for the first time on Monday and totaled just two hours of practice before the game.

“We just kept it simple and wanted to put as much pressure on them as possible,” ECACHL All-Star and Harvard head coach Katey Stone said. “Special teams are what’s going to suffer when a team just comes together.”

The third period saw a revived ECACHL team, and less than thirty seconds in the All-Stars scored their second goal of the game. Caplette fed Brown’s Hayley Moore the puck in front of the net, and Moore slipped it past USA goalie Chanda Gunn to light the lamp. The USA National Team added one more goal five minutes into the period to make the final score 6-2.

But more important than the outcome of the game is what it reveals about women’s hockey and in particular Yale women’s hockey.

“Our sport has taken a big step forward,” Resor said. “I’ve never seen it this packed with girls on the ice. It was great to play here in front of all my fans.”

Caplette, Savard, Love and Resor were all members of a Yale women’s hockey team which saw unprecedented success in the 2005-2006 season. With a collection of talented new recruits, a solid core of returning players, and a new penchant for winning, the Bulldogs’ representation on both Team USA and the ECACHL All-Star team are indicative of their potential for success this season.

“The Yale players did a great job,” Stone said. “Sarah’s one of the best goalies around. Deena and Kristin work hard and they are very disciplined. They’re fun to coach.”