A lopsided loss and a hard-fought draw highlighted the importance of special teams and discipline for the Yale women’s hockey team as it skated through its first weekend of conference play.
The Bulldogs (2–1–1, 0–1–1 ECAC) played stretches of great hockey on Friday night against defending conference champion No. 5 Quinnipiac (7–2–1, 2–0–0) but were unable to convert on power play opportunities in a 4–1 defeat. Against then-No.9 Princeton (3–0–1, 1–0–1), the Elis held their opposition scoreless until the Tigers capitalized on a six-on-five opportunity in the final minutes of play. The team was then unable to come away with a golden goal in overtime.
“This weekend we did a lot of good things that are promising for the season going forward,” defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “We also definitely made some mistakes which we’ll hopefully learn from as we strive to achieve our goals.”
The first period of Friday night’s Battle of Whitney Avenue ended in a scoreless tie, encapsulating the reserved style that often characterizes rivalry matchups in the early going. Quinnipiac, however, was able to draw first blood when star forward Taylar Cianfarano jammed home a rebound on the power play just 53 seconds in to the second stanza.
The Elis evened the score 10 minutes later as forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 picked up a pass from forward Emma Vlasic ’19 and flew through the neutral zone. Chancellor chipped the puck around a Bobcat defender and blistered a wrist shot from the left wing into the top shelf of the net.
The two teams exchanged offensive opportunities to no avail in much of the remaining second period action. Defender Taylor Marchin ’17 came within inches of giving Yale the upper hand when she dinged a shot off the post just two minutes before the conclusion of the middle 20 minutes. It looked as though the Elis would impressively enter the third period level with Quinnipiac, a team which won three of four games against Yale last year. But Bobcat forward Kenzie Lancaster had other plans, picking off an errant pass in the Yale zone and depositing the puck into the Bulldogs’ net to give the Bobcats a 2–1 lead with 27 seconds remaining before the break.
The final period was muddled by penalties, and discipline became an issue for Yale: The Bulldogs were assessed seven minor penalties and served 14 minutes of time in the box. Though the Elis held a 23–20 shot advantage through the first 40 minutes of play, Quinnipiac capitalized on the player advantages in the third period, totaling 14 shots to Yale’s two. The Bobcats’ offensive onslaught translated to two more insurance goals and an eventual 4–1 loss for the Elis.
“Going forward, if we want to turn games like [Friday’s against Quinnipiac] around, we need to focus on our special teams capitalization,” forward Eden Murray ’18 said. “We were zero percent on our power play and three of Quinnipiac’s four goals were scored on the power play. That’s also a good indicator that we need to stay out of the box.”
After falling to Bobcats on Friday night, the Yale bounced back against Princeton, last year’s Ivy League champion, on Saturday. The Bulldogs were anchored on Saturday by goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20, who replaced Hanna Mandl ’17 between the pipes in the second contest of the weekend.
Although the Tigers outshot the Elis 12–6 in the first period, neither team could seize a lead. The Bulldogs’ biggest opportunity in the opening frame came on a five-on-three advantage just eight minutes into the game, but the Elis were repeatedly denied by Princeton netminder Alysia Dasilva, who matched Hofmann’s performance with a scoreless effort in the opening frame.
Likewise, the second period did not feature a single goal as the teams tied 8–8 in shots but went into the intermission scoreless. However, the Bulldogs capitalized on a five-on-three advantage midway through the third period after Princeton was whistled for interference and boarding penalties within two minutes of each other. Marchin had her initial shot blocked by Dasilva, but forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 collected the rebound and sent a pass across the crease that was met on by forward Murray, who directed the one-timer in to give Yale a 1–0 lead.
The Elis clung to their one-goal advantage until the Tigers pulled their goalie with under two minutes to go. With a six-on-five advantage in the Bulldog zone, Princeton forward Cassidy Tucker sent a shot towards the net that deflected off Hofmann and into the Bulldog cage, evening the score with just 89 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Bulldogs were called for interference late in overtime but successfully executed their tenth penalty kill of the afternoon, ending the game in a 1–1 draw. Hofmann finished her collegiate debut with 35 saves on 36 shots, four of which came in the five-minute extra period.
“Obviously it’s nerve-wracking being put in for the first time, but once I stepped on the ice, I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be,” Hofmann said. “My defense was excellent with clearing the puck and blocking shots. It felt really good to be able to show my [teammates] that I had their back. Moving forward we know what we have to do to succeed, and we are prepared to do it.”
Yale returns to Ingalls Rink this weekend to face Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Friday and Union on Saturday.