With the ECAC Hockey regular season dwindling down to its final two weekends, the Yale women’s hockey team hosts No. 10 Colgate and Cornell this weekend in its last home contests of the year.
Just six days ago, archrival Harvard broke a five-game winning streak for the Elis (10–14–1, 9–8–1 ECAC Hockey), who before that game were on the verge of breaking into the top four of the conference standings. Now in seventh place in the ECAC, Yale remains on a mission to get into the top four in order to get home-ice advantage in the conference playoffs.
Earlier in the season, the Bulldogs lost 4–3 to Colgate (17–6–7, 9–4–5) and 6–4 to Cornell (9–12–4, 5–9–4). This week in practice, not only are the Elis looking for revenge against these two teams, but they are also celebrating the final time that the five Yale seniors will play in Ingalls Rink.
“With the regular season coming to a close, and the standings being as exceedingly close as they are, we know these two games are very important,” forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 said. “But instead of focusing on any sort of pressure, we are excited for the opportunity to play our best Yale hockey and honor our seniors.”
It has been just one month since the Bulldogs have seen the Raiders. During that matchup, Yale had a 2–1 lead over Colgate, and a 10–5 advantage in shots, after the first period. The tables then turned as Colgate converted for three goals in the final two periods, and one more goal from the Bulldogs was not enough to overcome the 4–3 deficit.
The second Colgate goal in that game was a power-play score, something that has become a strength for the Raiders in 2015–16. Colgate is second in the ECAC with a 23.8-percent success rate on the power-play, a facet that poses a clear threat to the Elis, whose penalty kill rate is currently last in the conference.
“Right now, we need to be better defensively,” defenseman Julia Yetman ’19 said. “This week at practice we have put a lot of focus on being tough to play against in our defensive zone, winning battles in the corners and getting pins down low. Although we want to play physically, we need to do a better job of staying disciplined because we have been taking a lot of penalties, which often kills our momentum.”
The end of Yale’s earlier game against Cornell proceeded in similar fashion, with the Bulldogs giving up late goals to break a 3–3 tie in the third period.
Within the first period, goaltender Hanna Mandl ’17 could not stop three out of Cornell’s first five shots on net. With the team down 3–0 heading into the second period, head coach Joakim Flygh substituted netminder Kyra O’Brien ’19 for Mandl.
O’Brien had a shut-out second period while her Bulldog teammates scored three goals of their own to match the Big Red. Yet the Elis just could not keep up as Cornell barraged Yale with three more goals in the last period, finishing the Bulldogs’ 13th loss of the season at that point.
“We outplayed them,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said. “But we just came up short on the defensive side of things.”
Cornell is now on a three-game losing streak, contributing to the team’s current total of 12 defeats this season. The Big Red has not had this many losses in one season since the 2008–09 campaign.
Yetman highlighted the team’s improved offense since that two-loss weekend, a feature that may be the key to success this weekend.
“Excluding our last game against Harvard, we have been very dominant in the offensive zone, running plays and creating good chances for ourselves,” Yetman said. “I think that if we are able to transition quickly and continue to move the puck in the offensive zone we will have a lot of success in our upcoming games.”
Yale’s last home games of the season will begin Friday at 7 p.m against Colgate and Saturday at 4 p.m. against Cornell. Saturday’s game will be Senior Day.