In its only home-and-home weekend series of the ECAC season, the Yale women’s hockey team plays Brown this weekend in two back-to-back games, looking to continue momentum and create its longest winning streak of the season.
The Bulldogs (7–13–1, 6–7–1 ECAC Hockey) face the Bears (3–16–2, 1–11–2) once at Ingalls Rink on Friday and again at Meehan Auditorium in Providence on Saturday. With Yale currently sitting in eighth place in the conference standings, both games will be key for Yale to strengthen its playoff chances. Two wins this weekend would give the Bulldogs a total of 17 points on the season, potentially enough to push the team up as high as a three-way tie for fourth place.
“Every game has become more and more important every time that we play,” goaltender Hanna Mandl ’17 said. “The last four points [from two consecutive wins] gave us a boost into a playoff spot, and we need to keep the streak going to secure a spot.”
In particular, this Friday’s contest will be an important one for all of Yale athletics. The Bulldogs will commemorate the life of fellow teammate Mandi Schwartz ’10, who died of acute myeloid leukemia in April 2011 after playing 73 games as a forward for Yale, with the “White Out for Mandi” event.
Schwartz was diagnosed with the condition in December 2008, prompting her family and the Yale community to assist her in finding a bone marrow donor. The drives held at Yale and in Canada did successfully discover a handful of matches for other patients needing donors, but Schwartz herself was unable to find a match.
“Although none of us got the chance to meet Mandi, we all wear her number 17 on our helmets to remind us of her incredible work ethic, selflessness and courageous battle she fought for so long,” captain and forward Janelle Ferrara ’16 said. “The Yale women’s ice hockey team wants to honor her legacy and play with the same love and passion Mandi brought onto the ice everyday.”
The Bulldogs emerged with a 6–3 victory over the Bears during last year’s home contest, a performance they look poised to repeat against a Brown team that has won just one conference game this season.
Since that victory against Union in early December, the Bears have been on a 10-game winless streak. During this past weekend alone, Brown allowed eight goals total against Union and Rensselaer.
“Brown is definitely a team we should beat, but that doesn’t mean we should underestimate them,” Ferrara said. “They are a hardworking team that will battle all game long. We can’t play down to their level, but have to push the pace and play fast, smart hockey for all three periods.”
In the previous two games of this season, the Elis pulled out two huge wins to keep them competitive within the ECAC Hockey rankings. Only the top eight teams get the bid to play in the playoffs, and Yale is currently ranked right at that marker.
Ferrara noted that staying out of the penalty box will be key against the Bears, something Yale struggled to do against Union and RPI. The Elis had a combined total of eight penalties on the weekend, leading to 16 total minutes playing man-down.
The Bears rank fourth in the ECAC in gaining power-play opportunities but have scored in those opportunities just 12.9 percent of the time, ranking 10th in the conference.
Brown boasts a younger team than Yale, with two underclassmen serving as the Bears’ leading scorers this season. Brown forwards Sam Donovan and Bridget Carey, who have scored seven and four goals in 2015–16, respectively, will face off against the Eli defense that only allowed for two goals against it in the last two games.
“We’ve placed a lot of focus on improving our defensive game throughout the season and it’s nice to see it paying off with wins in the last few low-scoring games we’ve had,” forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 said. “Our shot-blocking and back-checking efforts as a collective unit have been very good as of late — which has allowed us to have a quick transition game and get back on the offense.”
Yale and Brown will face off at 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.