The women’s ice hockey team left the rink for the exam halls after two painful losses, looking forward to the three-week break that was supposed to revitalize the team. But the rest from classes did more than merely revitalize. Now, the squad returns triumphantly for second semester, sporting a phenomenal 5-1 record over winter vacation.

The Bulldogs (10-8, 6-7 ECACHL) have plenty to boast about after their performance over break. The team took the Nutmeg Classic title for the first time in the tournament’s history, defeating in-state rivals UConn (12-9-1) and Quinnipiac (7-17, 4-12) with scores of 3-0 and 7-3, respectively. They didn’t stop there, blowing away Union (4-16, 0-12) in an offensive barrage that netted them five goals, while goalkeeper Shivon Zilis ’08 kept the Dutchwomen scoreless with 11 saves. The two Union goalies scrambled to deal with a Eli onslaught of 58 shots.

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Zilis racked up a second shutout the very next night with 23 saves, when the Elis downed the Rensselaer Engineers (10-12-1, 6-5-1) in a 2-0 victory.

“I think we’re off to a great start for the second half of the season,” defender Berit Johnson ’10 said. “This has helped everyone to keep high expectations for what we will be able to accomplish over the next several months.”

Johnson picked up an assist in the Union game, and her sister, forward Kelsey Johnson ’07, scored two goals and an assist, leading some to refer to the dynamic combo as “Johnson & Johnson.” Berit’s assist was on one of Kelsey’s goals.

Last Friday’s game stood as the one bleak spot in an otherwise shining vacation record, when the Bulldogs took a tough 7-2 defeat from the St. Lawrence Saints (17-5-2, 9-3). The Saints defeated the Elis earlier in the season, and their most recent victory extends their unbeaten streak against Yale to 29 games.

“The loss to [St. Lawrence] was disappointing,” Kelsey Johnson said. “It showcased some areas [in which] we need to improve, and we are going to address these issues.”

St. Lawrence took full advantage of the penalties the Bulldogs incurred during the home game, keeping up the pressure on the Eli net during the power play and scoring just as each penalty expired. The Saints are ranked seventh in the NCAA for power play, and only cemented their reputation with Friday night’s effort.

“We made a lot of little mistakes, and St. Lawrence is a good enough team to capitalize on those mistakes,” Berit Johnson said. “We had good offensive opportunities, but we gave up way too much on defense. To beat St. Lawrence, we are going to have to play a great defensive game.”

In Saturday’s game against Clarkson (13-9-2, 5-6-1), the Elis bounced back to do just that, smashing the Golden Knights in a 5-1 victory that gave forward Sheila Zingler ’07 the chance she needed to score a natural hat trick. Zingler’s three goals in the third period propelled the Bulldogs to what was the senior class’s 49th win, breaking the previous record and establishing it as the most victorious class in school history.

“Sheila obviously had a great game against Clarkson,” Berit Johnson said. “It was awesome to see her put those goals away. That whole line played really well in that game — they were working together and driving hard to the net.”

With this season-best streak in hand, the squad is looking ahead to the games to come with excitement and optimism, Kristen Stupay ’09 said.

“I think the quick, intense tempo of our practices and positive outcome of the games over the break have left everyone pretty excited for the second half of our season,” she said.