The Yale women’s ice hockey team returns to action this weekend as it hopes to wrap up its six-game home stand with its first conference wins of the season.

The Bulldogs (2–1–1, 0–1–1 ECAC Hockey) host Rensselaer (3–6–1, 1–1–0) on Friday night before facing Union (2–8–0, 0–2–0) on Saturday afternoon. The Elis, who average 3.50 goals per game this season, look to maintain their offensive attack against two opponents that have allowed the most goals of any ECAC teams thus far. The Engineers and Dutchwomen have conceded 53 goals this season with combined record of 5–14–1.

“As a team, we need to make a statement in the first couple of minutes and get some quality offensive chances,” forward Eden Murray ’18 said. “This weekend, like any other, is simply an opportunity to further our improvement as a team and get closer towards our ultimate goal.”

Two victories will be crucial for the Elis to keep pace in the early stages of the conference season following a lopsided defeat and a heartbreaking draw against two nationally ranked ECAC foes last weekend: No. 5 Quinnipiac and No. 10 Princeton.

The Bulldogs battled the Bobcats for nearly two periods until Quinnipiac pulled away late in the game on Friday, while the Tigers scored an equalizing goal with under two minutes to play on Saturday to dash hope of a Yale victory in excruciating fashion.

“We should have won the last game against Princeton,” forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 said. “The team is not happy about the draw and we are using last weekend’s results to fuel our motivation to win this coming weekend. The league is very competitive and so there is no reason to think that because we did relatively well against a top team that the games against nonranked teams will be easy. It will be a fight and we will have to prove ourselves.”

Last season, Yale swept RPI but finished one spot behind the Engineers in the conference standings, which held the Bulldogs out of the eight-team ECAC postseason tournament. RPI is anchored in net by goaltender Lovisa Selander, who was a member of the ECAC All-Rookie Team and an All-League selection in 2015–16.

The Engineers are paced on offense by forward Sabrina Repaci, defender Hannah Behounek, and forward Makenna Thomas, who have each scored three goals this season. RPI is coming off of a 1–0 win over previously undefeated Cornell and has quick, small players who are aggressive on the puck.

Veteran goaltender Hanna Mandl ’17 played the entirety of Yale’s first three games, posting a 0.900 save percentage and a 2.34 goals-against average in the wins against RPI and the loss to Quinnipiac. The day after the team’s defeat to the Bobcats, netminder Tera Hofmann ’20 made her collegiate debut against the Tigers, recording a 0.972 save percentage on 36 shots in the 65-minute, 1–1 tie. The freshman captured ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week honors for her performance.

“Tera had a great debut and gave us a chance to win,” head coach Joakim Flygh said. “We go on a game-to-game basis; this week’s practice will determine the starter for this weekend.”

Yale will return to the ice quickly after facing RPI to host a Union team currently winless in the ECAC. The Dutchwomen failed to enter the win column at all in 2015–16, suffering 28 defeats and six draws, but have already nabbed victories over RIT and Penn State. Union has already conceded 31 goals in just 10 games, struggling defensively while starting three goaltenders.

Offensively, more than half of the team’s 36 points have been registered by freshmen, with rookie forward Haley Shugart tying her junior defense counterpart Caitlyn McLaren for the team lead at five.

In order to emerge victorious in both of this weekend’s matchups, players said that Yale will need to outwork and outskate its opponents while applying pressure in front of the net. If the Bulldogs can dictate the tempo and intensity of the game, players said, they will put themselves in a position to be successful.

“The team is excited going into this weekend,” defender Taylor Marchin ’17 said. “We opened our season against two very good teams, which basically threw us into top gear pretty fast. We learned a lot about what we can accomplish as a team and the potential we have moving forward in our season. The intensity has been great in this week’s practices and I feel like we are definitely ready to take care of business.”

The Bulldogs take the ice at Ingalls Rink on Friday at 6 p.m. to take on RPI and Union on Saturday at 3 p.m.