The Yale women’s hockey team lost two nail-biting games at home this weekend, casting a shadow of doubt onto the Elis’ chances of earning a bid to the ECAC Hockey playoffs and erasing their hopes of hosting a home game should they make the postseason.
On Friday, the Bulldogs (10–16–1, 9–10–1 ECAC Hockey ) faced off against No. 10 Colgate (19–6–7, 11–4–5) and narrowly lost 2–0, before skating against Cornell (11–12–4, 7–9–4) and falling by the same margin, 4–2. Both games featured a one-goal Yale deficit for much of the third period, but an empty-net goal for both the Raiders and Big Red sealed a zero-point weekend for the Bulldogs.
“I think we played really great at times, and not so great at other times,” said forward Brittany Wheeler ’18. “We need to be more consistent going forward.”
Friday night, both team’s goalies put on clinics, combining to save 53 of the 54 shots sent their way. In the first period Yale led the charge with 18 shots to Colgate’s four, but was unable to turn its pressure into anything more than saves, as the period ended 0–0.
The second frame was far more balanced, as both teams rattled off shots, but yet again, both goalies held strong, forbidding either team to change the scoreboard.
In the third period, the puck finally found the back of a net because of an odd bounce off the skate of Yale goaltender Hanna Mandl ’17. Yale was unable to match the Colgate tally through the first 19 minutes of the final period, and an empty-netter from Raider forward Jessie Eldridge, just 30 seconds after Mandl cleared the crease, secured the victory for her team.
On Saturday, Yale’s offense was more productive, but the team still fell to a similar demise due to a span of just two minutes that altered the course of the game.
The Bulldogs opened the game’s scoring when forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 scored off a perfect centering pass from linemate Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 only seven minutes into the game. With less than a minute left in the period, Cornell forward Kaitlin Doering knotted the game at one-a-piece.
In the second period, four goals were scored, three of which were inside the two-minute mark. Yale struck first, as a save from Cornell netminder Paula Voorheis bounced off the chest of captain and forward Janelle Ferrara ’16 before finding its way onto the stick of forward Eden Murray ’18, who quickly netted the puck for Yale’s second but short-lived lead.
Cornell forward Hanna Bunton retaliated 15 seconds later to tie the game before striking again, just over a minute after that, to take the lead.
Another empty-net goal ended Yale’s chance at a late comeback, and the Bulldogs exited their final home weekend of the 2015–16 campaign without a single point.
Heading into the two games the Elis were hoping to come away with a pair of victories to help their chances of gaining home ice in their first-round playoff game. Having lost both games, home ice is no longer a possibility, but the team remains in contention for a tournament berth.
“Ultimately you can’t dwell on the past, you have to look forward,” head coach Joakim Flygh said. “We talk about it all the time — win or lose, you have to look forward. I have no doubt we will step up and face the challenge here during the week and into the weekend too.”
Eight teams in the conference make the postseason, and Yale sits in the eighth slot, just on the edge of the playoff-bound teams. Securing strong results next weekend, the final two games of regular season play, is therefore essential for the Elis’ playoff hopes.
Yale next squares up against St. Lawrence, a team the Bulldogs trampled 5–2 in January, before running against No. 5 Clarkson the following day. The score in the Yale–Clarkson matchup in January was also 5–2, though in the favor of the Golden Knights.
“We’re going to stick to our game plan,” Flygh said. “We’re going to clamp down defensively, and hopefully we can produce offensively … I’m sure we’ll have a great week of preparation here and get ready to go.”
The puck will drop at 7 p.m. in Canton, New York on Friday, and at 4 p.m. in Potsdam the subsequent night.