The women’s hockey team is headed to the ECAC playoffs, but not in the way it wanted.
The Elis (11-13-5, 8-8-4 ECACHL) beat Quinnipiac (10-18-5, 3-13-3), 3-0, Friday but lost, 3-0, to No. 6 Princeton (19-6-4, 15-3-2) Saturday, falling short in their bid for the program’s first-ever Ivy League title. The Tigers’ win gives them their first Ivy crown in over a decade and knocks the Bulldogs into eighth place in the ECAC standings. But defender Kelsey Johnson ’07 said the loss did not shake her confidence in her team.
“We played a very good game and I don’t think that Princeton is a better team,” Johnson said. “That being said, they’re a very good team and when you don’t convert on the opportunities you have you’re not going to win.”
Finishing eighth means the Elis will have to travel to regular-season champion No. 2 St. Lawrence (28-3-2, 16-2-2) for the opening round of the ECAC playoffs next weekend. The red-hot Saints already have two wins against the Bulldogs this year, including a 7-1 drubbing at Ingalls Rink last weekend.
But the Elis still believe they can win.
“We all believe we’re capable of advancing in the playoffs by beating St. Lawrence,” Johnson said. “As difficult as this weekend was, we have to move on because we still have the ability to accomplish some of our goals for this season.”
For the Bulldogs, whose program-record seven-game unbeaten streak was snapped last weekend with losses at home to St. Lawrence and No. 8 Clarkson, this weekend was an opportunity to bounce back from some tough losses and go into the playoffs with some momentum and a good seed.
The Bulldogs had not lost to Princeton since November 2003, and dominated them and goaltender Roxanne Gaudiel in the first round of the playoffs last year. This was a team the Elis matched up against, a team they could and often did beat.
This time the Tigers would not be tamed. Their powerful offense was clicking, and Gaudiel, who had been outplayed and outclassed by Sarah Love ’06 in almost all of their previous meetings, was flawless. Gaudiel made 20 saves in the shutout and improved her sixth-in-the-nation goals against average and her seventh-ranked save percentage.
Defender Carlee Ness ’09, who watched the game but was out with a concussion, said small mistakes ruined a solid game for the Elis.
“We played well, but Princeton definitely capitalized on the mistakes we did make,” Ness said. “Against St. Lawrence we can’t afford to make any mistakes.”
Despite Gaudiel’s dominance, the game stayed close for the first two periods. The Tigers took an early lead at 10:57 in the first, but Yale somehow kept Princeton from putting the game out of reach early. The Tigers outshot the Bulldogs 11-5 in the first and 9-6 in the second, largely because Yale couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. The Elis took the first three penalties of the game and Princeton had five of the game’s seven power-plays.
Although they were able to stop the Tigers on the first three power plays, penalties eventually got the Elis into trouble. Heather Jackson scored on the fourth Princeton power play, midway through the third. She would score again two minutes later to wrap up the game and the Ivy title for Princeton.
“We took a lot of penalties this weekend which hurt us because it broke up the flow of the game,” Love said. “Against St. Lawrence, we definitely need to limit the number of penalties we take. When we’ve played 5-on-5 hockey against them, we’ve been very successful.”
But despite the loss to Princeton, the Bulldogs’ weekend was not utterly devoid of happiness. Quinnipiac spoiled the Elis’ season opener with a shootout win at the Nutmeg Classic Oct. 28, but had not played well since, so the Bulldogs were itching for a win Friday night in Hamden. They got one, too, as Love showed her skills with 21 saves and a shutout. The Elis beat the Bobcats, 3-0, outshooting them 29-21 despite taking twice as many penalties. The Bobcats finished 0-for-9 on the power play.
Defender Danielle Kozlowski ’09 had the game-winner, her second of the season, on a Yale power play almost halfway through the third. Forward Crysti Howser ’09, who would also put the Elis up 2-0 with a goal early in third, had the assist on Kozlowski’s goal, feeding an unbelievable pass to the freshman defender, who was left uncovered down low.
Howser’s goal came after a frantic second, in which three Yale penalties led to three consecutive power plays for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac outshot Yale 10-5 in the frame, but Love was unbeatable, brushing off shots left, right and center. It was just 36 seconds into the third when Howser shifted the momentum back to the Elis.
Yale locked up the game with a Nina Resor ’07 empty-netter with less than a minute to play.
The Elis open the playoffs at St. Lawrence for a best-of-three series that starts Friday.