Ivy foes Harvard and Dartmouth forced the Yale women’s hockey team to learn the hard way: those first few minutes matter.

The Bulldogs (1–7–1, 1–7–0 ECAC) faced early deficits in both contests at Ingalls Rink this weekend — allowing the Crimson to notch three goals within the opening five minutes of play and the Big Green to score twice in the first 10 — and were unable to close either gap. Yale fell 5–0 to Harvard (5–3–1, 5–3–0) and 6–2 to Dartmouth (4–3–1, 4–3–1).

“Honestly I don’t know why we don’t play well in the first period,” Yale head coach Hilary Witt said. “That killed us this weekend. You’ve got to play for 60 minutes.”

It only took the Cantabs a 4:48 stretch to tally three goals on Friday.

Forward Jillian Dempsey opened the scoring just 25 seconds into the first period, collecting a feed from behind the net and bypassing goaltender Jackee Snikeris ’11. Crimson defender Ashley Wheeler added another goal at 2:43, and Dempsey struck once more at 4:48 to give her team the 3-0 lead.

“We just didn’t show up,” Eli head coach Hilary Witt said. “We didn’t come to play the first few shifts — we weren’t ready. I don’t think we started to play hockey until the second period.”

The Bulldogs brought in goaltender Genny Ladiges ’12 to relieve Snikeris after the Crimson grabbed its early 3-0 lead. Ladiges made 12 saves during the first and second periods and allowed no goals in that time span.

Yale seemed to regroup in the second period as defenseman Alyssa Clarke ’10 threatened Cantab goaltender Christina Kessler just 30 seconds in, but Kessler blocked the shot. Forward Bray Ketchum ’11 was also unable to capitalize on her attempt two minutes later.

“Our team played really well in the second and third periods,” said Ladiges, who earned another four saves in the third period to total 16 for the day. “That really made a difference.”

But capitalizing continued to be the problem for Yale. The Bulldogs outshot Harvard 11–5 in the second period, but were repeatedly denied by Kessler.

The Harvard players had more success. They found some openings again in the third period, adding a goal at 3:20 to make the lead 4–0.

The Crimson’s fifth and final goal came with less than two minutes remaining. All five were scored at even strength.

Yale suffered another early setback in Saturday’s game against Dartmouth, as the Big Green notched two goals within the first 10 minutes.

Forward Jenna Cunningham struck first for the away squad, putting an unassisted shot past Ladiges at 2:17. Cunningham added another seven minutes later to make the lead 2–0. Dartmouth outshot Yale 17–3 in the first period.

“We’ve got to show up ready to play,” said forward Aleca Hughes ’12, who scored one of Yale’s two goals in the game. “I think if we pay attention to detail in the defensive zone, more opportunities will arise.”

Hughes narrowed the gap during a power play in the second period, collecting her own rebound to put the puck past Dartmouth goaltender Mariel Lacina at 4:17.

The Bulldogs have only scored on three of 41 power plays this season.

“It wasn’t a typical power play goal,” Witt said. “We had a kid drive to the net and score a good goal instead of one scored out of a setup.”

But it took the Big Green less than a minute to respond. Forward Kelly Foley capitalized on a Yale penalty moments after Hughes’ goal, knocking the puck into the left of the net from close range. Forward Sarah Parsons, a former member of the U.S. National Team, added another power play goal at 13:11 to make the score 4-1.

Yale regained some momentum at 18:49 in the second period when a hard shot by forward Caroline Murphy ’10 found the back of the net, but the offensive spurt did not last and Dartmouth scored again in the sixth minute of the third period.

The Bulldogs exchanged Ladiges for an additional attacker later that period, but Parsons capitalized on the open net at 17:21 to cap the final score at 6–2.

“I think they just wanted to get some offense going,” Ladiges said of the decision to pull her from goal. “We didn’t really have a chance at that point, and I think we just wanted to work on our attack with an extra man.”

The Big Green outshot Yale 37–25 overall. Ladiges closed her day with 31 saves.

The Elis return to Ingalls Rink today to compete against Sacred Heart in the Nutmeg Classic.