After splitting a pair of non-league games at Ingalls Rink in the Nutmeg Classic last weekend, the Bulldogs (2–8–1, 1–7–0 ECAC) return to conference play when they take on No. 6 Cornell (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Colgate (Saturday, 4 p.m.) in New York this weekend.
Coming off their split at the Nutmeg Classic, the Elis will look to build on the momentum.
Head coach Hilary Witt said the team is continuing to come together and working to play well as a whole.
“I would say over the last few weeks we’ve definitely gotten some contributions from players we haven’t seen in much from in the past,” she said.
Those contributions were especially evident in last Friday’s first-round Nutmeg Classic game as Yale defeated Sacred Heart by a score of 10-1 and five different Elis each notched a pair of goals.
Forwards Caroline Murphy ’10 and Becky Mantell ’12 are among the Yale players producing offensively. Murphy leads the team with five goals — all scored within the past three weekends — and Mantell tallied her first pair in the Sacred Heart contest.
“Becky Mantell has really stepped up, both offensively and on the penalty kill,” Witt said. “I’m really proud of what she has been able to accomplish.”
But the offensive energy did not last into the championship game against UConn, where the Bulldogs fell behind early and could not close the gap, ultimately falling 6–1.
With the challenge of facing the nationally ranked, conference-leading Big Red (7–4–1, 6–1–1) on Friday, Witt said the Elis will need to be on top of their game: playing for 60 minutes and putting energy into every shift.
Witt noted that strong goaltending will be crucial against Cornell’s talented squad, which has outscored its opponents 25-13 this season since the season’s first two games (where the Big Red was outscored 8-2 in a pair of 4–1 losses). Cornell also tops the conference in both power plays — which the team is converting at a 7-for-29 (.241) clip — and penalty kills, where the Big Red are 26-for-27.
“They are pretty solid on defense, but they certainly have some crafty players up front that can hurt you,” Witt said of Cornell. “They have some pretty good balance in the top lines.”
The Elis, on the other hand, have struggled to convert power plays (they are 2-for-35 this season) and to kill penalties. In the 6–1 loss to UConn, the Huskies capitalized on power plays three times.
Witt said the team has been working to play more aggressively to improve in these areas.
“We didn’t block shots when we needed to block shots [last weekend],” Witt said. “It’s a daily grind. Most people get out of the way of flying objects, and we are trying to get kids to get in front of them.”
The Cornell game will certainly test the Elis as will the contest against Colgate — a team Witt said Yale always struggles against. The Red Raiders (3–11-3, 1–4–3) are ranked 9th in the ECAC and dropped a pair of games last weekend.