After a promising first game of the new year against Dartmouth, the Yale women’s hockey team had a disappointing end to its winter break. With three consecutive losses to conference opponents, the Bulldogs have now dropped below the 0.500 mark and are ranked eighth in the ECAC.
Yale (7–9–1, 4–6–0 ECAC) suffered tough losses to Harvard, Princeton and Quinnipiac over the break. In each of those three matches, the Elis were limited to just one goal in spite of an average of 3.06 goals per game this season.
“The break was a good time to regroup as a team and focus on our game,” captain Aurora Kennedy ’15 said.
The Bulldogs’ game against No. 6 Harvard got off to a good start, with forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 scoring just 4:10 into the match on a slap shot off a pass from defenseman Kate Martini ’16.
But two Cantab goals in the last 33 seconds of the first period gave Harvard a lead it never relinquished. Harvard netminder Emerance Maschmeyer, last year’s ECAC Goaltender of the Year, made 23 saves on 24 shots to shut the Bulldogs down and lead Harvard to a 3–1 win.
“Harvard was the most difficult game because they are a fast paced and physical team, but we matched that well with our speed and work ethic,” Kennedy said. “Unfortunately, a poorly played minute at the end of the second put a damper on the game, but we know we can beat them come next time.”
On Friday, the Elis traveled to New Jersey to take on the Princeton Tigers. Despite out-shooting Princeton 32–31, the Bulldogs fell 4–1 after allowing a pair of first-period goals.
One strength of the team this year has been its ability to take advantage of opposing penalties. Yale currently ranks third in the ECAC in power play percentage, having converted 13 of 59 chances. But the Tigers did not let the Elis get an opportunity with an advantage, however, as they committed zero penalties all game.
Goalkeeper Jamie Leonoff ’15 saved 102 shots in the past four games, bringing her season total to 412. In Saturday’s game against No. 5 Quinnipiac, however, Leonoff came out after recording just nine saves, and goalkeeper Hanna Mandl ’16 made her fifth appearance this season. But Mandl could not stop Princeton’s freshman forward Taylar Cianfarano, who completed a hat trick halfway through the third period.
The losses came at the hands of some of the toughest competition in the conference and in the league. Quinnipiac and Harvard, in addition to being two of the highest-ranked teams in the nation, top the ECAC. Princeton, meanwhile, is not far behind, coming in fourth in the conference.
“The ECAC has been getting stronger and stronger, and the high pace of the last few games among the top teams has been great to play in,” forward Gretchen Tarrant ’17 said. “These matchups against top-ranked teams are the kind of games that help us to see where we need to improve as a team and are definitely important in our development during the second half of the season.”
However, the break was not without success. The Bulldogs’ game against Dartmouth proved to be an easy win for the Elis, who topped the Big Green 5–1 on the strength of goals from four different Bulldogs. Forward Hanna Åström ’16 led the charge with two scores, including one shorthanded goal, adding to Yale’s second-best conference total of shorthanded goals. Åström just returned from the 4 Nations Tournament, where she represented Sweden.
Yale will have its first chance to snap its losing streak this Friday when the team hosts Cornell.