This past weekend, the women’s ice hockey team held on to its place in the ECAC rankings — but its members also had to watch as the conference leaders drew further out of reach.

The Bulldogs (9-10-6, 6-8-4 ECAC) dropped a close match to conference rival Princeton (12-8-5, 10-6-2) on Friday night, falling 2-1 at Ingalls Rink despite outshooting the Tigers, 27-25. The next day yielded more favorable results, as the home squad managed a 3-3 tie against Quinnipiac (5-20-5, 2-12-4). The Saturday match marked the end of the ECAC’s inaugural Pink at the Rink weekend.

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Standing in seventh place with 15 points, the Bulldogs were just two points ahead of ninth-place Rensselaer (12-12-5, 5-9-4) and trailed Princeton by only four when they took to the ice Friday. The game began with neither the Bulldogs’ nor the Tigers’ gaining any serious advantage, and it wasn’t until just past the 13-minute mark that Princeton broke onto the board, thanks to a goal fired by Tiger forward Annie Greenwood that ricocheted off the pipe.

It didn’t take long for the Elis to respond, though, and at 16:19 they answered with a goal of their own, courtesy of forward Bray Ketchum ’11.

Neither team would score again in the first period — or the second, for that matter. The middle stanza passed with only five shots on goal by the home squad and seven by the visitors. But in the third period, Greenwood solved goaltender Shivon Zilis ’08 for a second time, when she knocked in a loose shot by Tiger forward Brittany Salmon at 7:06. Try as they might, the Bulldogs could not beat Tiger netminder Kristen Young again, and despite pulling Zilis in order to field an extra attacker, the buzzer sounded on a 2-1 Eli defeat.

“In the Princeton game, we as a team, but me especially, were not able to finish a lot of our chances,” forward Crysti Howser ’09 said. “That hurt us because we probably should have scored three or four goals.”

“We had more quality scoring chances, but they finished and we didn’t,” head coach Hilary Witt said.

In contrast to Friday’s matchup, the Quinnipiac game was a back-and-forth battle from the beginning. Bobcat forward Elyse Cole put the visitors on the scoreboard only 2:40 into the first when she knocked a backhand past goalie Jackee Snikeris ’11. But at 16:27, Howser put in a goal of her own on a power play to tie it up.

At 3:23 in the second, the Bobcats went on a power play of their own, and Cole smashed a rebound into the open net to put Quinnipiac ahead again. In spite of a barrage of 14 Eli shots in the stanza, goaltender Tia Wishart stood strong, and the teams entered the third with the Bobcats still ahead.

But the third period marked the beginning of a whole new level of play for the Bulldogs. Ketchum started things off with a goal at the 2:53 mark, assisted by Howser and forward/defender Caroline Murphy ’10. The Bobcats answered back with a goal at 4:27, putting them in the lead once more, and it was then that the Elis unleashed a veritable onslaught of shots.

Despite the offensive barrage, though, only 2:26 remained on the clock when Howser put away her second goal of the game to tie it up, assisted by Murphy and defender Helen Resor ’09. The period ended with the score knotted at three — after a phenomenal 27 shots on goal by the Bulldogs and an equally impressive 25 saves by Wishart. Overtime passed scorelessly, with both goalies making three saves, and the game resulted in a tie and a single point for the Elis.

“I definitely think we should have beaten Quinnipiac,” Ketchum said. “But we came back in the third period, which was awesome. I thought we created a lot of opportunities to score, but we need to capitalize on them. [Wishart] gave up so many rebounds.”

The Bulldogs are now looking ahead to this weekend. With just four games left to play in the regular season, every point they can manage is critical — especially with eighth-place Cornell (10-13-1, 7-10-1) looming just one point behind them and breathing down their necks. But if the end of Saturday’s game is any indication, the Elis are certainly not beaten yet, Howser said.

“If we can manage to play every game the way we played in the third period of the Quinnipiac game, we will be in a good position to win our remaining games,” she said. “We are fighting for one of the final playoff spots now, but if we take care of business and play the way we are capable of playing, we should secure a playoff spot.”