The Yale women’s hockey team narrowly missed securing a playoff berth this weekend after coming away from road games against St. Lawrence and No. 5 Clarkson with just a single point in the ECAC Hockey standings.
Following a 2–2 tie against St. Lawrence (15–13–6, 9–8–5 ECAC Hockey) on Friday night in Canton, New York, the Elis (10–17–2, 9–11–2) would have needed at least a tie, and possibly a win, against Clarkson (26–3–5, 14–3–5) to have a chance at a top-eight spot in the ECAC, and thus a postseason bid. Yale, fighting hard with its season on the line, came back from a 2–0 deficit against the Golden Knights and were seconds away from forcing the game into overtime when a goal from Clarkson forward Rhyen McGill ended Yale’s playoff prospects — and the team’s season — with just 24.5 seconds left in regulation time.
“We didn’t achieve our goal this season, so that stings, but overall it was probably the most effort and most passion we’ve ever played with for an entire season,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said. “We all wanted to win, but it’s great to see developments like that because you know that the team will be starting with such a great base next year.”
On Friday, Yale traded early goals against St. Lawrence, with scoring from Haddad in the first period and captain and forward Janelle Ferrara ’16 in the second. The third period both began and ended with score at 2–2, as neither team was able to generate enough offense aside from a few opportunities that did not come to fruition.
A scoreless overtime period concluded a contest that was closer in more ways than just the final score: No team outshot the other by more than two shots in any period, and the Saints finished with a shot advantage of just one, 24–23, on the game as a whole.
After the game, Yale was tied for eighth place with Cornell and was one point behind Rensselaer and St. Lawrence, which were tied for sixth. Only the top eight teams in the ECAC are invited to participate in the playoffs, and earning a tie or win against Clarkson, which entered the contest riding a 14-game winning streak, was certainly difficult.
Soon after the game began, that challenge got more difficult with two Golden Knight goals within the first six minutes of the first two periods. The Bulldogs fought back, however, and kept themselves in the game with goals from forwards Eden Murray ’18 and Krista Yip-Chuck ’17, the latter coming with 17:37 remaining in the third period. The goals exactly matched the first two of Clarkson: The Golden Knights scored one on the power play and another while shorthanded, and the Bulldogs’ tallies came in the same two situations.
In the end, however, Clarkson had one more power-play goal left in the tank that Yale did not, sealing the game in the final minute with McGill’s goal.
Despite her three goals allowed, Yale goaltender Hanna Mandl ’17 had one of her better games of the season, coming away with 42 saves out of the 45 shots she faced.
In both games, Haddad said the Bulldogs took too many penalties, and their opponents were able to capitalize when the team did not execute their systems properly. Yale had two penalties against St. Lawrence and six against Clarkson, two of which resulted in power-play goals for the Golden Knights.
In the Clarkson game, specifically, both squads struggled in their special teams play, with two of the game’s five goals being shorthanded and the other three happening on power plays.
The weekend marked the end of an up-and-down 2015–16 Yale season: The Bulldogs began the year 1–6–1, and rebounded with a five-game winning streak a month ago, but finished with a 0–4–1 stretch that knocked them from a chance at a top-four ECAC placement to a bottom-four finish.
“As a whole we feel disappointed, we wanted more for this season and we didn’t get that,” forward Brittany Wheeler ’18 said. “For the returning players, I think it has provided the necessary frustration to fuel our off season training as we prepare for a new season with new goals for the program.”
This year, the Yale women’s hockey program will graduate seniors Hanna Åström ’16, Rachelle Graham ’16, Kate Martini ’16, Ferrara and Haddad, who collectively scored 29 of the team’s 71 goals this season.