With two upset wins this weekend, the Yale women’s hockey team secured a spot in the ECAC playoffs for the second consecutive year.
The Elis (15–13–1, 12–10–0 ECAC) finished off its regular season run with an impressive 3–0 win against No. 5 Quinnipiac (24–7–3, 15–5–2) on Friday and a 2–1 victory over Princeton (15–12–2, 13–8–1) the following day. The team now enters postseason, with a three-game series against No. 3 Harvard starting on Friday.
“This weekend was a very hard-fought battle,” captain and defenseman Aurora Kennedy ’15 said. “Both Quinnipiac and Princeton are great teams, but we stuck to our game plan and played exactly how we were supposed to. Our team is peaking at the right time, and it’s great to see players playing to their potential right now.”
Friday’s matchup against the Bobcats was a very different game from the other two contests earlier this season, both of which ended in defeat for the Bulldogs. Yale came out speedy in the first period, keeping pace with ranked Quinnipiac and putting the first point on the board when forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 pushed in a rebound to take the lead.
The game did not see another goal until nearly the end of the second period, at 17:41, when Yip-Chuck once again found the back of the net to increase Yale’s advantage. The Bulldogs continued to prevent the Bobcats’ offense from challenging their lead, allowing only 11 shots in the final period.
Forward Hanna Åström ’16 posted a stellar performance, not only assisting on the previous two goals, but also scoring the final goal of the game early into the third, ensuring the Yale victory. In her second shutout in as many weeks, goaltender Jaimie Leonoff ’15 had 37 saves to give the Elis a decisive victory over their in-state rival.
Despite outshooting the Bulldogs 37–20 and playing a penalty-free game, Quinnipiac failed to capitalize on three power-play opportunities. With this loss, the Bobcats dropped to a four-point deficit from then-conference leader Harvard, losing a chance at earning the first playoff position.
Yale also came out strong on Saturday afternoon against Princeton. Yip-Chuck’s impressive weekend continued when she scored the opening goal of the game at 9:43 with a backhand shot. This was her third goal in the past two games.
The Tigers scored one of their own in the early into the second on a loose puck in front Leonoff, but the Bulldogs did not let Princeton keep the lead for long. In the midst of a four-on-four that began with simultaneous penalties — called on Yale for interference and Princeton for embellishment — the Tigers committed a delayed penalty. In the ensuing four-on-three, Yale pulled Leonoff from the goal. The strategy worked, as defenseman Taylor Marchin ’17 found the back of the net to bring the score up to 2—1.
The Elis shut out Princeton in the third period to secure the Yale victory.
“All the hard work we put in starting in preseason and during October is paying off and everyone was really happy to get the win on Saturday for our seniors,” defenseman Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “The two games this weekend summarize how much the seniors have dedicated to this team, and there was no better way to end the season by beating Quinnipiac and Princeton.”
The Bulldogs have now won the past five games, their longest winning streak of the season to date and their longest streak since at least the 2007–08 season. With the win against Quinnipiac, the Elis have proved again that they can compete with some best competition in the league.
Yale earned four points this weekend, pushing it ahead of Dartmouth to occupy the seventh position in the conference and playoff tournament, beginning this Friday.
“I’m excited for playoffs,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said. “Playoff hockey is a totally different beast. Everyone is on their A-game. I think we are a team capable of causing a big upset.”
The Bulldogs will face No. 3 Harvard, the second seat in the ECAC tournament, in a best-of-three series in the hopes of moving on to the semifinals.
Correction, Feb. 23: A previous version of this article included a headline that incorrectly stated that the women’s hockey team clinched a berth in the ECAC playoffs this weekend. In fact, the team clinched a spot on Friday, Feb. 13. The article also incorrectly referred to Yale’s second goal against Princeton as having occurred in a four-on-three situation, when it was actually a five-on-four situation.