Defense. Confidence. Discipline.

Those are the words posted on the inside of the boards for the women’s hockey team to see when the players sit on the bench at Ingalls Rink. And they are the principles that the Elis will rely on for inspiration this weekend.

After a long road series, the Bulldogs (9-15, 5-12 ECAC) return home to take on Rensselaer (13-13-3, 8-8-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Union (2-25-3, 0-17-1) on Saturday at 4 p.m.

“Both RPI and Union are teams that we’ll need to bring a good effort against,” forward Crysti Howser ’09 said. “The key to both games will be staying disciplined in the defensive zone and then finishing chances on the offensive end.”

Last time the Elis faced the Engineers, they suffered a 2-1 defeat on Nov. 1, with defender Helen Resor ’09 scoring the lone goal for the Bulldogs. Rensselaer is currently tied with Cornell for seventh place in the ECAC; the Elis, meanwhile, are currently the odd man out sitting at ninth place behind Rensselaer by eight points.

Against the Dutchwomen, the Elis posted four goals — two by Howser and two by forward Bray Ketchum ’11 — and goaltender Genny Ladiges ’12 shut out the opponents with 12 saves. Union has not won a conference match this season, and the Elis are 13-0 against Union all-time.

But the Bulldogs will be playing for more than just two tallies in the win column. As part of the ECAC’s cancer awareness fundraiser, the Bulldogs will be hosting “Pink at the Rink” this weekend. Although this is not the first time the Bulldogs have hosted the event, this year’s event has special significance.

“ ‘Pink at the Rink’ is a great fundraiser for an extremely important cause,” head coach Hilary Witt said. “This year it holds an even more special place in our hearts.”

On Wednesday, news of Mandi Schwartz’s ’10 battle with leukemia was made public. Schwartz, who was diagnosed in December, has returned to Saskatchewan for treatment. But her teammates say she has never been far from the Bulldogs’ minds when they take the ice.

“Every game we play is for Mandi and her love of the game,” captain and forward Sarah Tittman ’09 said. “Mandi is in our thoughts and prayers every day, and we hope people come to the game to support the cause.”

In support of their teammate, the Bulldogs wear “Number 17” — Schwartz’s number — stickers on their helmets and leave space in their line when introduced. Admission to both home games will be free, as the Elis hope the fans will purchase pink Number 17 T-shirts to raise funds.

“We have played every game for Mandi since she has been gone, but I think this one might tug at our hearts because this is the first time we are sharing it with the public. Every player, coach and support staff member has felt a void without her,” Witt said. “I want to thank everybody on behalf of Yale hockey for the incredible support. Mandi is a vital part of our team. She is a fighter, she inspires us every day and we can’t wait for her to step back on this campus.”