The Yale women’s hockey team finish up the first half of its season this weekend with two matchups against conference competitors.

On Friday, the Bulldogs (4–6–1, 1–3–0 ECAC) will face Union, which is coming off its first shutout victory of the season over Northeastern. Yale will then travel to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday to take on the Engineers, finishing off its set of games in 2014.

“Both Union and Rensselaer are hardworking and gritty teams that are able to match other teams’ intensity levels,” defenseman Taylor Marchin ’17 said.

However, with the tough competition in their league, Union and Rensselaer trail in the conference, as they are the only two teams who have yet to win against an ECAC opponent. The Dutchwomen are only averaging a single goal per game, while the Engineers have 48 goals against them this season, 20 more than Yale has yielded.

According to players, this is a critical time to earn conference wins and put themselves in a better position for a potential playoff run. The Bulldogs also want to keep their momentum heading into the break.

“These games are important for our team because it is important to head into winter break on a positive note with two wins,” Marchin said. “Then, a high energy level will be carried over to the second half of our season when we return.”

Yale is currently on a three-game losing streak after a disappointing result in the Nutmeg Classic this past weekend and tough-to-swallow shutout defeat at the hands of Boston College the week before.

With an intense practice schedule, the Bulldogs are preparing to reverse that trend.

“I think we need to raise our competition level in practice this week,” forward Hanna Åström ’16 said. “Everyone knows that we have two crucial league games coming up this weekend and that’s why it’s especially important to have a good week of practice. I know my team and I know the ambitions everyone has for this season which is why I’m 100 percent certain that we will bounce back.”

Marchin also noted that rest is crucial for the team members to prevent injury, as the team is in the midst of one of its most physically exhausting points in the season.

The Bulldogs will not be making any drastic alterations, though, and they are placing their faith in the hard work they have done so far to lead them to more wins, according to captain Aurora Kennedy ’15.

“We’re not really trying to make any changes at this point in the season,” Kennedy said. “We know what we need to do, so we’re just going to have a hard working week in practice and battle for four points next weekend.”

Yale’s major goal is to improve with each game, and the players believe that most minor problems such as forechecking and defensive systems have been resolved, but they need to start winning to prove it. According to Marchin, the talent and potential is there, but the team just needs to come together.

After this weekend, the team will have a small break before returning for another set of games starting in January. Marchin is looking forward to more wins and believes the team is definitely capable of a playoff appearance.

“Making it to and playing in play-offs is my favorite part of the season,” she said. “Everything is on the line, and it is what we work toward all year.”

The team will return to campus the day after Christmas to begin practicing for Yale’s next games. It will kick off the second half of its season on Jan. 2 against Dartmouth.