This Sunday, the Yale women’s hockey team travels to New Hampshire for its final game before winter break and its final game of the calendar year.
The last time Yale (4–7–1, 3–2–1 ECAC Hockey) traveled to New Hampshire (7–13–1, 5–8–0 Hockey East) was in 2008. While none of Yale’s current players or coaches suited up for the Elis during that last meeting, current Wildcat head coach Hilary Witt was the Bulldogs’ head coach at the time.
Although the winningest head coach in the history of Yale women’s hockey will be standing behind the opposing bench, the Bulldogs have prepared for business as usual.
“We have not done anything special to prepare for UNH other than continuing to focus on ourselves,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said. “I think the goal is to come out strong on Sunday and set the pace, so that they have to do all the readjusting.”
The Elis are riding their first two-game win streak of the season after defeating a pair of ECAC foes, Rensselaer and Union, on the road last weekend.
Yale is currently tied for eighth place with RPI in the league standings with seven points apiece, just four points out of second but nine behind conference leader Quinnipiac.
“It was great to have a four-point weekend within the ECAC,” goalkeeper Hanna Mandl ’17 said. “Everyone is really excited to have another opportunity to finish the first half of our season on a strong note.”
Over the past few games, the Bulldogs have started to find their groove around the net. Yale has lit the lamp nine times over the past four games and has been impressive in conference play especially.
The Elis have scored 18 goals in six games of league action thus far, which is the second most in the conference on a per-game basis. No. 4 Quinnipiac is the only team ahead of Yale, as the Bobcats are averaging 3.2 goals per league game.
Captain and forward Janelle Ferrara ’16 and forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 are tied atop the Bulldogs in scoring with five goals each. Meanwhile, defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 and forward Eden Murray ’18 are lead the team with 12 points each, bolstered by nine and eight assists, respectively.
According to forward Hanna Åström ’16, the Bulldogs plan to use their speed and quick puck movement in transition to the team’s advantage, making it hard for the Wildcats to keep up.
“We skated pretty hard on Monday,” Haddad said. “We have been trying to improve our power play.”
The Elis have had 32 power-play opportunities to date, but have only scored on five of them. Yale’s 15.6 percent success rate on the power play ranks eighth in the ECAC.
Looking to match the production of Yale’s offensive lines are the Wildcats’ own top scorers, Jonna Curtis and Amy Boucher. The duo has scored a combined 17 goals, though neither has scored in the past two games.
Nevertheless, after a near shutout against RPI and after holding Union to one goal last weekend, Åström expressed her confidence in Mandl and Yale’s defense to limit New Hampshire’s offense.
Though Mandl currently ranks last among ECAC goalies in save percentage at 0.883, she has only allowed five goals over the past four Yale contests.
“Our goalie, Mandl, has contributed a great deal to our defensive play,” Åström said. “She has had some incredible games this season and that gives our team more confidence in the defensive zone.”
The contest against the Bulldogs on Sunday will be the Wildcats’ fifth game in nine days. Over that stretch, New Hampshire topped Yale’s fellow in-conference foe Dartmouth and will face Quinnipiac Friday night. New Hampshire is 2–3–1 overall thus far against ECAC teams.
Action on Sunday will take place in New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center, which will be hosting the NCAA Frozen Four later on this season on its Olympic-sized ice surface.
“The biggest thing we need to work on is playing with consistency throughout the game,” Åström said. “We all have the physical capacity to play 60 minutes of great hockey, so I think what it comes down to is simply having the mental capacity to focus for the entirety of the game.”
The opening puck drop on Sunday is set for 2 p.m. in Durham, New Hampshire.