The women’s hockey team’s season opener against Providence lived up to its billing as a tough encounter for the Elis.

It was quite the way to start off a season — coming from behind twice to earn a 2–2 draw Saturday evening in Providence. Forward Bray Ketchum ’11 retained her momentum from last season, in which she finished as top scorer with 13 goals, scoring Yale’s first goal and creating the second for Aleca Hughes ’12.

This was the Friars’ (3-2-2) fifth game of the season so it was never going to be easy for the Bulldogs (0–0–1) in their first competitive game of the 2009-’10 campaign.

There were no goals in the first period, although Providence’s offense had the upper hand, notching 12 shots to Yale’s five. The deadlock was broken a minute and a half into the second period during a Providence power play, as a deflected slap shot landed just in front of the goal and was turned in by fortunately placed Providence forward Nicole Anderson.

Shortly after, Yale capitalized on a Providence penalty for hooking to tie the game at 1–1. Sophomore defender Heather Grant’s rebounded shot was slammed home in predatory fashion by the opportunistic Ketchum.

“I was excited to get that first goal because our power play has been working hard to create opportunities,” Ketchum said. “Dani [Moncion ’13] and Aleca [Hughes ’12] were creating havoc down low and I was fortunate to be in the slot when the rebound came out. It was a great group effort.”

It was to be a frustrating second period for Yale, as the Bulldogs were penalized four times. Providence needed no further invitation to make Yale pay and scored on a power play with six minutes remaining in the period. Ketchum was well aware that these lapses in concentration were costly and need to be eradicated.

“We can’t afford to get penalties like we did against Providence,” she said. “A lot of them came from us not moving our feet.”

Coach Hilary Witt acknowledged that the team was a bit slow to start but that penalties are to be expected in the modern game.

“It’ll be a huge goal of ours for the rest of the season to stay out of the penalty box,” captain and forward Caroline Murphy ’10 said. “Penalties are unacceptable, especially the number that YWH [Yale women’s hockey] has historically taken. This is something we must and will change.”

After bringing Yale back into the game once already, Ketchum was instrumental in the Elis’ second score to bring the game to 2-2. It was her one-two exchange that released Hughes ’12, who slotted the puck home to equalize.

The third period was scoreless, as was the overtime, thanks to goalkeeper Jackee Snikeris ’11, whose strong play kept Yale in the game and secured the tie.

“Snikeris was an all-star in net,” Hughes noted. “She kept us alive and made 35 saves.”

The team managed to address the issue of penalties yesterday in an exhibition game against McGill, which it won 4–2.

The team has taken heart from these opening encounters, Hughes said, and she, for one, is confident that they can maintain these standards.

“As we continue to work together as a unit, everyone will contribute and make things happen,” she said. “I think we are going to surprise a lot of teams this winter.”