Despite battling back in both contests, the Yale women’s hockey team (5–14–2, 4–9–1 ECAC) suffered two tough conference losses this weekend at the Whale; the first, a 2–1 decision to Dartmouth and the second a 5–3 defeat at the hands of rival Harvard.
Aleca Hughes ’12 scored three goals — one Friday night and two clutch goals Saturday — but she and the Bulldogs just could not muster enough offense to take down the Big Green (14–8, 10–6) or the Crimson (12–7–2, 11–3–2).
A tough day for the Yale special teams facilitated the Bulldogs’ demise on Friday. After killing off an impressive 24 straight penalties, the Yale penalty-kill unit relinquished a power-play goal late in the second period that turned into the game winner for Dartmouth. The Bulldogs killed off five other penalties in the course of the game, accumulating twelve total penalty minutes.
Staggeringly, Dartmouth bested that number, committing ten penalties of its own, yet the Yale power play proved unable to capitalize on a single one, ending the day 0–10 with the man-advantage.
After going down early on a Kelly Foley goal at 6:30 of the first period, Yale saw its deficit grow to two when the Big Green’s Erica Dobos deposited the eventual game-winner in the back of the Yale net at 16:30 of the second frame. Hughes pulled the Bulldogs within one at 13:25 in the third period off a feed from linemate Bray Ketchum ’11, but it was too little, too late for Yale, who despite having a 6-on-5 advantage with Snikeris out of net, were unable to tie things up.
Snikeris held Yale in the game with 35 saves, of which a large number were impressive stops on point-blank chances from Dartmouth. Following her big weekend against Clarkson and St. Lawrence last weekend and including that 35-save effort against the Big Green, Snikeris came into Saturday’s game against Harvard having made 105 saves in her last three games.
But if Harvard was intimidated by Snikeris’ recent success, they certainly didn’t seem it Saturday, as the Crimson scored four goals on 29 shots before adding an empty-netter late to seal the deal.
“I thought we played with them all game,” Flygh said in a press relase after the game. “They had some nice individual efforts for their goals. But our kids came to play, and that was evident. They weren’t going to give up.”
The Crimson’s Jillian Dempsey handed her team a 1–0 lead at just 4:35 of the first period, sliding into Snikeris and the net as she slapped the puck over the crease for a breakaway goal. But Yale finally overcame its power play frustrations just five minutes later, when Jenna Ciotti ’14 responded with a goal through the legs of Harvard goalie Laura Bellamy.
The game headed to the second tied, but didn’t stay that way for long. Crimson forward Lyndsey Frey’s wrister found the top shelf of the Yale net and gave Harvard a 2–1 lead. Liza Ryabkina then snuck another shot past a screened Snikeris to increase the deficit to two for the Crimson.
But it was Hughes again who responded to bring the Bulldogs back within striking distance, when a shot thrown on net by defenseman Jamie Gray ’13 rebounded to the doorstep where Hughes stuffed it in.
Harvard got another quick goal early in the third to go up 4–2, but with just over two minutes to go Hughes struck again, using a feed from Jackie Raines ’14 to set up a strong wrister and light the lamp, cutting the deficit to just one.
Yale opted to pull Snikeris yet again, but, like Friday night, were unable to capitalize on a few good scoring chances with the extra skater. Harvard’s Kate Buesser was able to turn a Yale turnover into a decisive empty-netter for the Crimson, making the final score 5–3.
“It’s frustrating when great team efforts don’t convert to wins” Hughes said after the game. “but if we continue to give it our all for a full 120 minutes each weekend I know we’ll be rewarded.”
Yale certainly hopes it can reap those rewards soon. With the losses, the Bulldogs fall to tenth in the ECAC, five points out of the final playoff spot. But fortunately, the two teams behind Yale in the standings are its next two opponents, Brown and Union, meaning that the Bulldogs are still alive as they hope to snag the last spot in the tournament picture.
Yale returns to action Tuesday night when they head to Providence for a mid-week date with Brown.