Looking to improve its ECAC standing, the Yale women’s hockey team returns home this weekend, after two away, to take on a pair of conference competitors.
The Elis (11–13–1, 8–10–0 ECAC) will face Rensselaer and Union in one of the team’s last weekends of regular season play. In preparation for the playoffs, the Bulldogs are focused on making each game count.
“With four games left in the regular season, we’re just focusing on our game,” captain and defenseman Aurora Kennedy ’15 said. “We learn from every weekend and use every week to try to become a better team.”
This set of games presents a great opportunity for Yale. RPI is currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak, all against conference opponents, two of which Yale recently beat. In addition, the Engineers on average allowed more than three goals per game, one of only two teams in the league to do so.
Meanwhile, Union has not won a game since its 2–0 shutout against Maine on Dec. 12. The Dutchwomen also sit last in the ECAC in goals and assists, scoring only an average of 1.17 goals per game. The Bulldogs excel in that category — they are now ranked No. 7 in the nation with an average of 3.12 goals per game. Yale is also ranked No. 6 in power-play goal percentage.
“At this point in the year we know our X’s and O’s, it’s just about going out and playing the best team game we can,” Kennedy said. “Both RPI and Union are relentless teams that work for everything, so it’s always a hard fought battle against them. We’re looking forward to it.”
Yale beat both of these teams in the same weekend in early December, marking the last time the Elis have swept a weekend.
The Bulldogs have played fairly inconsistently since the start of the second half of the season, dropping a game to Brown, currently sitting in last place in the conference, three weeks ago. But the next week, the Bulldogs dominated last’s year national champions, Clarkson.
Forward Jamie Haddad ’16 attributes some of the inconsistent play to the team’s tendency to play to its opponents’ level instead of Yale’s own pace.
“We’re a lot calmer under pressure,” Haddad said. “We still struggle with playing to our opponents’ ability. You make progress, then you have setbacks. It’s an upward trajectory.”
The Elis have some of their most explosive offensive drives when they are fired up, like in their rematch against Brown and last Saturday’s matchup against Dartmouth. In the Dartmouth game, the Bulldogs scored four goals in the final 10 minutes. This season is the first time that the Bulldogs have swept the Big Green in program history and their first win in Hanover since 2006.
Yale hopes to keep the momentum going into next weekend, players said.
“We came out with a lot of energy and confidence,” forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 said. “Dartmouth made us angry and aggressive through [the team’s] chippy and arrogant play. [We’re] hoping to play the same way and continue our great playing habits for the upcoming weekends.”
The Bulldogs currently sit in seventh place in the ECAC with 16 points, and they still share the position with Dartmouth, who picked up a win against the Bears on Friday. Although they are now too far down in points to host in the playoff quarterfinals, earning an advantage over the Big Green would help the Elis gain a more desirable postseason position.
The game against RPI will begin at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.