For the women’s ice hockey team, this weekend marked the end of a season of heart-stopping wins and heartbreaking losses, a season in which records were smashed, old rivals defeated, and the senior class who “turned this program around,” according to Helen Resor ’09, said its last goodbyes.
The Bulldogs (15-14-2, 10-12-2 ECACHL) fell to Harvard (23-6-2, 19-4-1) in Boston this weekend, dropping the first match of the quarterfinals on Friday, 3-1, and then taking a 2-1 loss the following day. With two of three series games already taken by the Crimson, there was no need for Sunday’s tiebreaker match, and the Bulldogs bowed out of the tournament, ending their season with the second-highest win total in Yale history.
The toughest part, head coach Hilary Witt said, was how hard the Elis battled, only to see two possible victories snatched away in the third period.
“The only thing that went wrong in the playoffs is that ultimately, they scored more goals than we did,” she said. “We played two very hard-fought games. Unfortunately, they won. But my kids played amazing hockey Saturday, and I am very proud of them.”
When the puck dropped at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Harvard seized offensive control just four minutes into the first period and refused to relinquish it, taking 15 shots on goal compared to the Bulldogs’ four. But netminder Shivon Zilis ’08 was ready for the Crimson barrage, keeping the home squad’s attempts out of the net for the entire first period. Crimson goaltender Brittany Martin knocked away the few Bulldog shots as well, and the second period opened on a still-scoreless game.
It wasn’t until 8:09 into the second that Harvard’s blazing offense paid off, when Crimson forward Katie Johnston finally managed to beat Zilis, stuffing one in the net on the power play to give her team a 1-0 lead. But seven minutes later, the Elis responded with a goal of their own when forward Crysti Howser ’09 got her stick on the rebound of defender Helen Resor’s slapshot and backhanded one into the net.
What had been a tight game broke open in the third, when the Crimson notched two more goals at the 1:13 and 2:57 marks, respectively. And though the Elis matched Harvard’s nine shots on goal with nine of their own, the squad couldn’t fire another past Martin. The buzzer sounded with the Bulldogs trailing by two.
Saturday’s game saw the Elis take control of the offense for the first time in the series, outshooting the Cantabs 7-3 in the first period. But, as in the game the day before, both goalkeepers kept their opponents at bay, and the game remained scoreless until Crimson forward Jennifer Sifers took advantage of a power play at 3:28 into the second — the only time in close to nine minutes of Harvard man-advantage play that the Yale penalty kill failed.
“Our penalty kill units really came together toward the end of the season,” defender Regan Gilbride ’07 said. “They definitely kept us in the game at key moments. Had a few more pucks bounced our way, it could have been a very different outcome, and as it was, we battled hard against one of the best teams in the country this weekend, and there was never any doubt we could beat them.”
There was a brief moment of hope in the third when forward Mandi Schwartz ’10 found the back of the net at 17:24 to tie up the game. But it was a short-lived celebration, as just 29 seconds later, Harvard Olympian Julie Chu fired one past Zilis to take a 2-1 lead that the Cantabs held until the clock ran out.
“The team played amazingly this weekend, especially in the second game,” Helen Resor said. “Everyone came to play and left everything on the ice. Everyone contributed, and no one on the team could have asked anything more of anyone else. We outplayed them — the bounces just didn’t go our way.”
The loss in the ECACHL tournament means that for the 2006-’07 Bulldogs, the season is over. And one of the biggest disappointments, Helen Resor said, was that they couldn’t eke out a win for what she calls “the best senior class to come through Yale women’s hockey.”
But the season itself was something of a triumph, even if it didn’t end on a triumphant note, Witt said.
“We won some big games, we lost some tough games,” she said. “We had great leadership from the senior class, especially from our captain, [forward] Kristin Savard ’07. We had young players improving every day and gaining important experience. We just had a really good season, and overall I am happy with all that my kids accomplished.”