After dropping two important games on Friday and Saturday, the women’s hockey team endured a 10-hour bus ride back to New Haven in the snow early Sunday morning that put a painful cap on an already tough weekend.

The Elis (5-9-3, 2-4-2 ECACHL) lost, 4-2, to No. 3 St. Lawrence (16-2-2, 6-1-2) Friday and fell to No. 9 Clarkson (15-7-1, 7-3-0), 1-0, Saturday. Although the Bulldogs led St. Lawrence at one point Friday and played hard against Clarkson, they weren’t able to do much against the Golden Knights’ much-vaunted defense or the Saints’ power-play unit, which was ranked fifth in the nation going into the contest.

With the losses to the conference leaders and national powerhouses, Yale falls into ninth place in the ECAC. If the season ended today, the Bulldogs would miss the playoffs. But forward Crysti Howser ’09 said she still took some positives from the tough weekend.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” Howser said. “We have a bunch of league games coming up in the rest of the year and we should be able to do well against the rest of the teams in the ECAC.”

All-American goaltender Sarah Love ’06 made 30 saves against Clarkson Saturday, but the Bulldog offense couldn’t get the nation’s third-best defense and Golden Knights goaltender Kira Hurley, who now leads the nation with eight shutouts in 23 games. The game’s lone tally came early in the second period, when freshman phenom Ashley Shaidle scored on a Clarkson power play. All five of the goals Love gave up over the weekend came on the power-play.

Penalties were the problem for the Elis’ in Friday’s game, too. The normally-disciplined Bulldogs spent 18 minutes in the penalty box, a figure nearly twice their average. The Saints’ superb extra-skater unit capitalized, scoring on 4 of 9 opportunities and bettering their 21.6 percent effectiveness.

Defender Ann Guillemette ’08 said penalties were the biggest problem for the Elis this weekend.

“We have to work on getting fewer penalties,” Guillemette said. “This weekend was pretty bad — that’s what killed us. We just have to keep moving and avoid penalties.”

Unlike the Clarkson game, the Bulldogs were able to get some shots past the St. Lawrence defense. Deena Caplette ’06 knocked the puck into an empty net late in the first frame after a clear by Saints goalie Meaghan Guckian took a weird bounce. Team captain Lisa Jacque ’06 scored on an assist from Carlee Ness ’09 midway through a frenzied second period, making it 2-1 Yale. But three power-play goals in the third period turned a close game into a rout, and the Bulldogs stayed winless in 24 games against the Saints.

Love said she was pleased to see the Elis showing some gumption early in the St. Lawrence game.

“The first two periods of the SLU game we showed we are capable of playing with the top team in the country,” Love said. “Usually we start games off slowly, but against SLU we dominated the first five minutes and that’s great for us.”

Yale gets rematches against St. Lawrence and Clarkson at home February 17 and 18, and Love said she was excited for the chance to beat them — and on senior weekend, no less.

“SLU and Clarkson are both teams that we can beat and when they come in February the games will be very competitive,” she said.