Still riding on the coattails of its two-win weekend against Rensselaer and Union, the Yale women’s hockey team will travel to upstate New York this weekend where it will face off against another pair of ECAC opponents.
The Elis (4–1–1, 2–1–1 ECAC Hockey) return to the rink on Friday night against No. 5 Colgate (10–0–1, 3–0–0 ) and will play Cornell (3–2–0,1–2–0) on Saturday. Thus far, the Bulldogs have been winless against ranked opponents, losing to No. 8 Quinnipiac 4–1 and tying No. 10 Princeton 1–1 in the team’s opening weekend of conference competition. Wins over the Raiders and the Big Red would not only catapult the Bulldogs into the top three of the ECAC standings, but would also allow the team to build off of last weekend’s success against RPI and Union.
“The upcoming weekend will be our first road trip of the season, which is always fun,” defender Kara Drexler ’18 said. “It’s important that we stay focused on what we need to do to get wins, both when we’re on the road as well as in our practices leading up to the weekend.”
Yale easily defeated the Engineers last Friday in a 7–2 victory before dispatching the Dutchwomen with an equally dominant 5–1 win on Saturday. Forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 was integral to the team’s triumphs as she scored a hat trick against RPI and recorded eight points over the weekend en route to an ECAC Player of the Week recognition.
Six Bulldogs tallied goals for Yale during last weekend’s play. Drexler and defender Taylor Marchin ’17 also had successful weekends defensively, recording identical +4 plus-minus marks for the weekend.
“Getting a hat trick was a highlight,” Staenz said. “Thanks to my line mates [Eden Murray ’18 and captain Krista Yip-Chuck ’17], I was able to score the goals I did. They worked extremely hard out there.”
Colgate, a team with already 10 wins under its belt in the 2016–17 season, heads into Friday’s face-off looking to extend a five-game winning streak. Like Yale, the Raiders have handily beaten RPI, RIT and Union already this season. Head coach Greg Fargo attributed the team’s success to its current group dynamic, which allows the team to play well together on the ice.
“I think the biggest thing for us so far is the fact that we only brought in three new players,” Fargo said. “With 18 players returning, there was a tremendous amount of familiarity with how we want to play as a team and our team culture. [The team] picked up where we left off and really just added a couple of key pieces to our roster.”
The nationally-ranked Raiders are led on offense by forward Jessie Eldridge, who tops the ECAC with 19 points and 14 assists through just 11 games. Colgate is anchored in net by goaltender Julia Vandyk, who has a 1.11 goals-against average and a 0.952 save percentage.
The two teams’ activity in the penalty box will likely be a determining factor of the contest’s final result. Colgate ranks second to last in the league with just 10 power play opportunities all season, while the Bulldogs lead the ECAC with a total of 58 minutes spent in the penalty box. It will be critical for Yale to minimize its penalties against a Raiders squad that ranks second in the conference in power play conversion percentage.
“Away games are always tough, so staying focused this week and pushing each other in practice will be imperative to our success,” goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 said. “I think that when approaching teams like Colgate, it is essential that we keep our focus and play our game. Keeping our penalty minutes to a minimum will also help us stay energized against such a tough team and ensure we don’t lose steam in the third period.”
Cornell, Yale’s second opponent of the weekend, lost in close games to both Colgate and RPI earlier in the season and currently stands in ninth place in the ECAC. However, the Big Red came out on top in both of its matchups against Yale in the 2015–16 season.
Freshman forward Kristin O’Neill has been crucial to Cornell’s offensive success this season. Although new to the ice for the Big Red, O’Neill has illuminated the scoreboard in three of the team’s five games thus far and will have Yale’s defense on close watch. Cornell’s defense, which has allowed just 1.21 goals per contest, will have its own hands full with a Yale attack that ranks first in all of NCAA hockey with 4.33 goals per game.
The weekend’s opening game begins at 6:05 p.m. against Colgate. The Bulldogs will then travel to Ithaca to face Cornell at 3 p.m. on Saturday.