A bittersweet weekend ended with the women’s ice hockey team proving that its members certainly know how to celebrate Senior Day right.
The Bulldogs (15-10-2, 10-8-2 ECACHL) eked out a 4-3 victory over Rensselaer (12-18-1, 8-11-1) on Friday evening thanks to a fantastic 33 saves by goaltender Shivon Zilis ’08, including one just 20 seconds into the first period and another several minutes later at point-blank range. But Saturday afternoon — Senior Day, when the team members of Class of 2007 were recognized for their contributions — was an even greater triumph for the Elis, as they annihilated Union (4-24, 0-20) in an 8-1 blowout of fantastic proportions, thereby clinching a berth in the ECACHL playoffs.
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“I think this weekend, our seniors really showed what their class is all about,” forward Maggie Westfal ’09 said. “Each and every one of them played hard and led the underclassmen through both games. They are an amazing class that will never be forgotten, and these games really represented that.”
The Engineers came out strong on Friday, outshooting the Bulldogs 12-6 in the first period. Zilis was up for the challenge, though, allowing no goals throughout the first, and Yale snagged a 1-0 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining. Forward Crysti Howser ’09 backhanded a shot into the net, assisted by forward Kristin Savard ’07 and defender Helen Resor ’09.
The second period saw the Elis put two more away and pull away to a 3-0 lead. It held for just 11 seconds, though, as Rensselaer finally beat Zilis with 40 seconds to go in the second. The Engineers cut the Bulldogs’ lead to one when they scored again 9:28 into the third. But Howser came through, netting her second goal of the game only 18 seconds later and giving her squad the two-goal lead that would sustain them to the end of the game, even after RPI made an extra-attacker goal with one minute to play.
“I think that in the RPI game we didn’t play exceptionally well,” Howser said. “But in the later half of the Union game [the next day], we were able to put everything we’ve been working on together.”
The first two periods of Saturday’s match were strong for the Bulldogs, if not stellar, and the buzzer sounded at the end of the second with Yale holding a respectable 3-1 lead. But the best was yet to come, and forward Christina Sharun ’07 started it off with an unassisted goal only 54 seconds into the third, breaking the game wide open. Then forward Sheila Zingler ’07 quickly took control, scoring her first of the game at 4:30 and putting away another at 6:48 to make it 6-1. Howser found the back of the net at 9:50 with the aid of Zingler and Savard, and then, at 14:51, Zingler sliced one more past the Dutchwomen’s defenses, notching her second hat trick of the season. The buzzer rang five minutes later on an 8-1 Eli victory.
“It was definitely great to score some goals on Senior Day,” Zingler said. “I give my linemates all the credit. And [it was really] the other members of our team [who] made [this weekend] especially memorable for us seniors. They were absolutely amazing and were sure to remind us of all the great times we have had playing hockey for this program.”
The successful weekend leaves the Bulldogs firmly in sixth place in the ECACHL standings with 22 points. Clarkson follows behind with 18, meaning that with these two victories, the Elis have guaranteed themselves a tie for sixth at the worst, and thus a spot in the playoffs. But fourth-place Colgate is five points ahead with just two games left to play, meaning the Raiders and the rest of the top four are officially out of reach. With home ice in the quarterfinals out of grasp, the Bulldogs now know that this homestand marked the last games the Class of 2007 will play at the Whale.
But at least it was a “perfect send-off,” Howser said.
“[The senior class] has done so much for this program, and they did so much for our team this year that they deserved to go out on a winning note,” she said.