The women’s ice hockey team clawed its way up the ECACHL standings this weekend, now standing at sixth place after a tie and a win pushed up their point total to 18.
The Elis (13-10-2, 8-8-2 ECACHL) managed a disappointing 2-2 tie against nearby Quinnipiac (8-20-2, 5-12-1) — and even that was uncertain until forward Crysti Howser ‘09 scored the game-tying goal with just 10.5 seconds to play. But the squad came back strong Saturday, plowing over fellow Ivy and ECAC league entry Princeton (13-10-2, 11-6-1) in a 6-3 blowout.
The Bobcats, who had already taken a loss in the newly dedicated TD Banknorth Sports Center, scored a 5-on-3 goal in the first and another power play goal in the second, leaving the Bulldogs trailing by two.
“We did not put forth a solid team effort on Friday,” forward Christina Sharun ’07 said. “We came out flat, took too many penalties and got outworked by a team that was fired up and ready to play.”
But the third period yielded far more satisfying results, as when defender Helen Resor ’09, back from a five-game hiatus due to injury, got off a shot that forward Jenna Spring ’07 tipped up and over the goaltender’s head into the net. Even that would not have been enough, but when goalie Shivon Zilis ’08 left the ice to give the Elis an extra attacker, Howser, assisted by Sheila Zingler ’07 and Maggie Westfal ’09, fired one in to tie the game with seconds to go.
The overtime period yielded no further goals for either team, and the buzzer sounded on a 2-2 tie that was both a disappointment and a testament to the Bulldogs’ tenacity, forward Danielle Kozlowski ’09 said.
“We knew Q-pac would come out strong because it was opening day at their new rink,” she said. “Although we should have played better and won the game, I think it speaks to our perseverance to be able to tie the game. We had opportunities to score in OT — we hit at least two posts — but the game just didn’t go our way.”
The Elis faced off against the Tigers the next afternoon. Head coach Hilary Witt subtly shuffled the attacking lines for the game, moving Spring to skate with Sarah Tittman ’09 and Denise Soesilo ’10 and placing captain Kristin Savard ’07 in the slot with Zingler and Howser. And, although the old lines were generally successful, the change certainly didn’t hurt, Soesilo said.
“For some reason, our new lines started clicking right from the beginning,” she said. “So it turned out … really well.”
The new line of Savard, Zingler and Howser proved itself with the first goal of the game at 11:30 in the first. Though Princeton came back to tie it almost immediately, two more Yale goals followed, scored by defender Regan Gilbride ’07 and Sharun, respectively.
Two successive Princeton goals, one in the first and one in the second, tied the score again. But the new line came through when Zingler put one away just 2:18 into the second, giving the Elis a lead they refused to relinquish. Soesilo scored the insurance goal unassisted near the end of the third, then, to top off a triumphant afternoon, notched an open-net goal assisted by defender Alyssa Clarke ’10 and new linemate Spring after Princeton pulled their netminder.
The Bulldogs moved up a slot to sixth, passing Rensselaer with the aid of this weekend’s three points. With only a two-point margin separating them and eighth-place Clarkson, the Elis will need to maintain their aggressiveness and flexibility in order to hold on to a playoff slot. The victory over the Tigers served as strong evidence that the squad is able to adjust to new lines quickly, Gilbride said.
“One of the strengths of our team is the ease with which we accept line changes,” she said. “We have great team chemistry, and it isn’t unusual for our coaches to shuffle the lines after a weekend. And whether it was the switch or [the close call Friday] that jump-started our offense against Princeton, we certainly played with renewed energy Saturday. Hopefully we can sustain that level of play for the rest of the season.”