The Yale women’s hockey team is now in the midst of its longest losing streak of the season as it comes off a week of playing against ranked competition.
The Bulldogs (4–6–1, 1–3 ECAC) have lost their last three games, two of which were played in the annual Nutmeg Classic on Friday and Saturday. A tournament between the state of Connecticut’s top teams, the Nutmeg Classic is a competition between Connecticut, Quinnipiac and Yale, with a fourth team that changes from year to year. This year, it welcomed Clarkson, the defending national champion.
“I believe that we give our opponents too much respect,” forward Hanna Åström ’16 said. “Quinnipiac is ranked No. 4 in the country right now and hasn’t lost a game all season. It’s easy to become intimidated by such a record and I think that we definitely showed that on the ice. I know that our team is talented and hardworking enough to beat Quinnipiac or any other top-ranked team in the country, but right now we are our own biggest enemy.”
In the first round, the Elis faced the Bobcats, suffering a 5–2 loss after failing to score until the third period. Yale then played against Connecticut on Saturday in the consolation game, which also resulted in a defeat, this time 3–1. Yale put the first goal on the board against Connecticut when forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 scored her second goal of the weekend. But the Huskies responded less than two minutes later to tie it up, and a goal in the second period proved to be the difference. UConn scored its final goal with just six seconds left against an empty net.
Forward Gretchen Tarrant ’17 said that she noticed a significant rebound after they were knocked out by Quinnipiac, and she believes that they outplayed UConn the next day, but just did not get any good bounces. Yale did have more impressive statistics, taking more shots than the Huskies with 33 to Connecticut’s 21.
Captain Aurora Kennedy ’15 agreed, saying that the team was unable to put the puck in the net against UConn.
“We were definitely the better team out there Saturday afternoon, but we just couldn’t finish,” Kennedy said.
Yale played a clean game with no penalties against it, and Staenz scored the team’s only goal on a UConn power play.
The Bulldogs entered the tournament coming off of a rough loss at the hands of the nation’s top team, No. 1 Boston College, on Tuesday. Yale was shut out by the Eagles 4–0.
“Playing No. 1 Boston College was definitely a challenge,” Åström said. “We didn’t bring our best game that day and played sloppily from time to time. You have no room for mistakes against a talented team such as [Boston College] because they will take advantage of your mistakes and score.”
Despite committing 10 penalties, Boston College still took an impressive 56 shots in the game, while the Elis only came away with 18. Yale goalie Jaimie Leonoff ’15 had 52 saves and a 0.929 save percentage.
The Bulldogs have faced some tough competition over the last week. Both Boston College and Quinnipiac are ranked and undefeated. Åström pointed out that they also have different styles of play, though. The Eagles in particular are known for their creativity on the ice, while the Bobcats have simple but consistent play.
Thanksgiving break was not entirely winless for the team, however. Yale crushed Sacred Heart 13–0 on Nov. 21, with nine different Bulldogs scoring goals and 74 shots taken.
“Because of the skill gap, we have to work hard to make sure we make that sort of game about us, and keep playing our speed and use the opportunity to get better,” Tarrant said. “Obviously it is always good to win a game, but ultimately, for what we are trying to achieve with the rest of the season, winning against teams like Sacred Heart is not something we are dwelling on.”
Åström agreed that it is a good opportunity for many players to score goals and have fun, but also that a large discrepancy in skill can have a negative impact. She credits some of Yale’s inability to adjust to the high pace of Boston College to their previous win against Sacred Heart, where that level of play was not seen.
The team will take on Union and Rensselaer this upcoming weekend, both of which are in the ECAC. According to Åström, playing with a higher sense of urgency is one of the most important aspects to practice this week.
“We really need to stay focused and finish strong,” Tarrant said. “We will keep doing what we always do, which is to work hard and keep pushing each other to get better. This is a great group and it is exciting to be a part of a team with so much potential heading into the second half of our season.”
These contests are the final two before the team begins play again in the first week of January with two Ivy matchups.