Although the women’s ice hockey team has already clinched an ECACHL quarterfinals slot, the Bulldogs won’t be relaxing just yet. Not when this weekend’s two matches will determine the squad’s tournament seed position — and will be the deciding factor in whether the Elis will shatter the all-time Yale record for season wins.

The Bulldogs (15-10-2, 10-8-2 ECACHL) travel to Boston to face rival Harvard (18-6-2, 15-4-1) tomorrow evening before heading to New Hampshire to take on ECACHL-leading Dartmouth (21-4-2, 18-1-1). The Elis are steadily holding on to sixth in the ECAC standings with 22 points, Harvard is tied in second with 31 points and Dartmouth is blazing ahead of the pack with 37. But even though the Bulldogs won’t be able to catch the Crimson or the Big Green in terms of points, the matchups this weekend could mean the difference between a fifth-place finish and a seventh-place one.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”14328″ ]

Seventh-place Clarkson is hovering just behind the Elis with 18 points, and the Golden Knights stand within striking distance of tying the two teams in sixth. A pair of Clarkson wins plus a pair of Yale losses could, through a complex tiebreaker situation, banish the Bulldogs to the seventh-place seed if Princeton doesn’t manage to beat out Colgate for fourth. In contrast, a weekend sweep could give the Elis a shot at knocking Princeton out of fifth place.

“This is a very important weekend, because it will help us get a favorable first round playoff matchup,” forward Kelsey Johnson ’07 said. “Beating Harvard is always important because of the Yale-Harvard rivalry, but this game is [even more of] a must-win because of the playoff implications.”

Nearly three months have passed since the Bulldogs last met up with the Crimson and the Big Green on the ice. The squad took a tough 4-3 loss to Dartmouth on Nov. 17, leading for much of the game only to see two third-period Big Green goals snatch the edge away. The next day yielded even bleaker results, when the Elis fell to Harvard, 5-1, after the Crimson scored three goals in the third.

But circumstances have certainly changed since then, and with the Elis fresh off an outstanding 8-1 victory over Union, there is no reason to doubt the squad is ready, willing and able to take on its ECACHL foes, forward Caroline Murphy ’10 said.

“I think [the season] has gone well — especially during the second semester,” defender Nina Resor ’07 said. “[But] we’ll need to stay out of the penalty box, [and] we need to play our best matches of the season.”

A double victory this weekend would also mean that the Bulldogs would surpass the season wins record set in 2005, shattering yet another benchmark for Yale women’s hockey. Already this year the senior class has broken the record for the most victories over four years, and the team as a whole has scored a commendable 89 goals. With two wins, the Elis would push their overall win total for 2006-2007 to 17, eclipsing the record set two years ago.

The squad is primed for the games this weekend, and the Bulldogs are looking towards the quarterfinals now looming on the horizon, forward Crysti Howser ’09 said.

“We are hoping to continue the success we’ve had these last couple weeks into this weekend’s games against Harvard and Dartmouth and into the playoffs,” she said. “The atmosphere of both games is going to be great. [And all in all,] I think we are happy with how things have gone so far — but the season is definitely not over yet.”