The Yale women’s hockey team’s previously flawless record took a turn for the worse this weekend as the Bulldogs suffered two conference losses at home against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
On Friday, Yale (2–2–0, 0–2–0 ECAC) was shut out 3–0 by the Saints before losing 2–1 in a close game against No. 9 Clarkson on Saturday. In last season’s opening conference weekend against the same opponents, however, the Elis lost by a combined score of 11–1.
“Both teams we played this weekend were very skilled and disciplined and forced us to play the same way,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said. “We didn’t have to deal with this hurdle against the weaker teams we played earlier in the season [when] we were still able to generate scoring opportunities even though we were making mistakes.”
In the game against St. Lawrence, the Saints started off the match by scoring two goals in the first period, a deficit that the Elis never recovered from. Yale took just 28 shots during the game, the lowest output from the Elis all season.
Yale only committed two minor penalties throughout the game and managed to stop St. Lawrence from scoring during both power plays, thanks in part to goalkeeper Jaimie Leonoff ’15, who had 32 saves.
“As a whole, our biggest struggle that game was that we got out-worked,” Haddad said. “They played a lot harder than we did in the first period, and that’s why they scored.”
With three minutes remaining in the third period, Yale pulled Leonoff from the goal, leaving the net open for St. Lawrence forward Kailee Heidersbach to score.
“Unfortunately, we felt we didn’t put forth the effort that we wanted in the first game against St. Lawrence,” forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 said. “Although we didn’t get very many fortunate bounces either, that was ultimately the reason why we were unsuccessful.”
In the Bulldogs’ match against Clarkson, Yale started strong, taking 18 of its 33 shots in the first period. The team’s persistence eventually paid off, as the Elis earned an early lead with a goal by forward Stephanie Mock ’15 during a five-on-three power play.
During the advantage, Mock managed to get her stick on the puck and finish in a crowd of Golden Knights and Bulldogs to make the score 1–0 with just 54 seconds remaining in the period.
“Taking the lead against Clarkson was very exciting for us,” Haddad said. “It gave us a lot of confidence to keep playing hard against them, and I think it deflated their energy a bit too.”
Haddad added that getting on the scoreboard first was especially important after a 7–0 loss to Clarkson in a game last season.
In the second period, the Golden Knights returned to the ice with a more active offense, taking 14 shots to the Elis’ five.
Ultimately, however, Yale could not hold on to its lead, giving up one goal each in the second and third periods. All of the goals in the game were scored during power plays. Despite five penalties on Clarkson players, the Bulldogs failed to capitalize on their opportunities in later periods.
“We need to drive the net more, screen the goalie and be a little stronger in the front of the net if we want to score more in this league,” captain Aurora Kennedy ’15 said. “This is something we will continue to work and improve on over the coming weeks.”
According to members of the team, playing conference opponents represented a big step up compared to Yale’s inaugural opponent, Providence. Yip-Chuck attributed the higher level of play and the speed of the game as reasons for the team’s losses.
Although the team will get a break from ECAC play this upcoming weekend, Saturday’s opponent — No. 6 Boston University — will not be an easy opponent. The Terriers have won six games this year, including two against familiar foe Clarkson.
Even with the losses, players said that the Elis will continue to learn from their mistakes as they take on more tough competition this season.
“I think one of the biggest things we learned from this weekend is how critical it is to play a full 60 minutes, that we can’t take any shifts off in this league,” Yip-Chuck said. “Consistency will be a huge focus for us in practice this week.”
Yale plays Boston University at home on Saturday. The puck drops at 3 p.m.