The women’s hockey team continued its ascent in the conference standings with wins this weekend against Union and Rensselaer at Ingalls Rink.
The Elis (6–10–3, 4–7–1 ECAC) defeated the Union Dutchwomen 3–0 on Friday before edging out RPI with a narrow 4–3 victory the next day, putting them in a three-way tie for eighth-place in the ECAC — the last spot good for a ticket to the league tournament.
The Bulldogs avenged an early-season 4–1 loss to RPI with 33 seconds left on the clock in this Saturday’s contest when defenseman Samantha MacLean ’11 scored the game-winning goal against the Engineers (8–10–5, 5–4–3). RPI goaltender Sonja van der Bliek bobbled the puck inside the crease and players on both sides scrambled to recover possession, but MacLean got there first — poking it through and into the net.
“Sam is the ultimate gamer,” coach Hilary Witt said. “She’s not flashy, but she just does the little things you have to do to be successful.”
Yale took control first in Saturday’s contest against the Engineers. Yale had just completed a successful penalty kill when forward Aleca Hughes ’12 picked up the puck at her team’s blue line and came in alone on van der Bliek — deking to the backhand before wristing a shot into the net at 13:55 in the opening period.
The Engineers equalized less than five minutes later, but Eli forward Becky Mantell ’12 struck from the center of the slot at 19:01 to put her team on top heading into the second period.
RPI rained shots on Yale’s net in the first 20 minutes — with 21 to the Elis’ seven — but netminder Jackee Snikeris ’11 was nearly perfect with 20 saves.
“They’re definitely a fast, physical team, and especially compared to playing Union the day before it was definitely a change,” Snikeris said. “The defense and the forwards did a good job blocking the good opportunities. There were a lot of shots but I was able to see and I think we did a good job keeping the high quality shots down.”
RPI controlled possession for the beginning of the second stanza, but still seemed unable to shut down the Bulldog attackers. Forward Bray Ketchum ’11 capitalized on a power play at 4:41, ripping a slapshot into RPI’s net. The Engineers responded minutes later with a quick counterattack when forward Allysen Weidner outraced the Yale defensemen to score from the top of the crease, slipping the puck through Snikeris’ knees.
The Elis held their 3–2 lead for most of the third period, but RPI’s Clare Padmore one-timed a rebound past Snikeris with only a minute and a half left to tie the game at three.
It looked like the game was headed into overtime, but MacLean and the Bulldogs responded in the final minute to score the tie-breaking goal.
A Yale hooking penalty with just nine seconds remaining in the game gave the Engineers one last opportunity. RPI pulled its goalie for an extra attacker, as forward Danielle Moncion ’13 lined up to take the crucial face-off in Yale’s defensive zone.
“Win it, that’s all I had to do,” Moncion said. “Win it and then make sure I blocked the shot and the puck didn’t get to the net. It was just really tense, and we knew that we needed the points because we are in a tight spot right now and every point counts for us to make it to the playoffs.”
The puck took a bad bounce and time expired before either side could truly gain possession.
Yale’s penalty kill unit went seven for seven against RPI and Snikeris finished with 38 saves.
Snikeris earned her 11th career shutout in the Eli win against Union on Friday, putting her one shy of Yale’s all-time career record.
Neither side scored in the first period, but forward Jen Matichuk ’13 gave her team the lead with her first career goal at 10:31 in the second. Teammate Tara Tomimoto ’13 added another less than six minutes later.
The Dutchwomen came dangerously close to scoring five minutes into the third period, but Snikeris foiled Union’s rush down the ice with a gloveside save.
Union pulled goaltender Alana Marcinko with 2:29 left on the clock, but the gamble went unrewarded as forward Bray Ketchum ’11 put the game out of reach with an empty-netter 24 seconds later. It was Ketchum’s team-leading ninth goal this season.
The Elis will face off against one of the conference’s two top teams, Clarkson, at home Friday.
“It feels good to know we really have a chance,” Witt said. “It makes me feel confident these kids will continue to battle for a playoff spot.”