After struggling with inconsistency all year, the Yale women’s hockey team finally seems to be picking up steam going into the crucial final games of the regular season.
The Elis (9-10-5, 6-5-4 ECACHL) extended their unbeaten streak to a Yale record-tying six games Saturday, beating Union 9-1 to cap off a weekend sweep of the Dutchwomen (3-20-1, 0-16-0), the league’s worst team. Senior goaltender Sarah Love ’06 extended her school record in career shutouts (11) when Yale won the series opener on Friday night 6-0.
The Elis scored 15 goals and allowed only one in the two-game set. Forward Crysti Howser ’09 had seven points on the weekend, defender Carry Resor ’09 picked up her first collegiate goal Friday night, and captain Lisa Jacque ’06 was one of four players to score twice on Saturday.
Resor said all the scoring was especially satisfying after last weekend’s 1-1 tie with then-No. 7 Harvard.
“All those points were nice because scoring hasn’t been one of our strong points over the season,” she said. “It was frustrating last weekend because we had three goals called back against Harvard. It was great that we had a lot of goals, but also that we had a lot of different people contribute.”
Part of the Elis’ scoring success came from their incredible dominance in the shots on goal department. The Bulldogs more than succeeded in their goal to “take a lot of shots,” as voiced by several team members. Yale outshot Union 119-29 over the weekend, including a 64-14 differential on Saturday. The Union netminder on Saturday, Amanda Hanson, made 55 saves but still gave up eight goals.
But it was a different goalie who gave the Bulldogs their only scare of the game on Friday. Freshman Alex Zirbel saved the first 12 shots she faced on Friday and stopped Yale on three consecutive power plays. It was not until late in the first period that the Elis seized the lead, scoring two even-strength goals in just over 30 seconds. The rest of the game was all Yale, highlighted by Howser’s fantastic short-handed goal slightly under eight minutes into the third and her follow-up less than two minutes later.
It was the Dutchwomen’s sloppy play that caused the most problems for them, as officials called Union for 20 penalties in the two games. The Bulldogs played much cleaner hockey, sending only 10 players to the penalty box during the weekend.
The penalties were especially deadly for the Dutchwomen on Saturday, when Yale went five-for-nine on the power play. But it was an early Yale penalty and a Union power-play goal, ironically, that gave the Elis their biggest scare of the series.
Maeve Kehoe took a shot on the Yale goal a little over four minutes into Saturday’s game, and Yale goalie Shivon Zilis ’08, caught off guard, saw it sail past her glove and into the net. The Dutchwomen had their first lead of the series — one of their first leads all year, in fact.
It would not last. Forward Jenna Spring ’07 tied it up on a slap shot midway through the first, and forward Sheila Zingler’s ’07 goal 63 seconds later gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
Zingler, who scored for the first time in 17 games, said she was relieved to finally put one in the net.
“It has been a long time,” Zingler said. “It’s been something that’s been on my mind, especially since coming into this season that was a role I wanted to fill — a goal-scorer. [Yale head coach Hilary Witt] explained it very precisely when she said it was a huge monkey off my back. It broke the seal, and I hope the floodgates are opened up now.”
Zilis, Love’s backup and heir apparent, would finish with 13 saves and the win, improving to 4-3-1 on the season. Love had nothing but praise for the goalie many have tapped as the future of Yale women’s ice hockey.
“I love watching Shivon play,” Love said. “She has a very quick glove and the potential to be great. She is definitely going to be a player to watch in the next couple years.”
The Elis play Brown Tuesday night in Providence. The Bears are fourth in the ECAC but just five points ahead of the seventh-place Bulldogs, so the result of the game may prove crucial to Yale’s conference finish.
The game is also crucial for Ivy League competition. If the Elis beat Brown Tuesday and Princeton in the last game of the regular season on Feb. 25, they will win the program’s first-ever Ivy League title. Love said Ivy wins are the team’s main goal at this point in the season.
“Right now, we’re focused on winning the Ivies,” she said. “We’ve been gaining momentum the past six games and we’re going to carry that into the game against Brown.”