The Yale women’s hockey team embarked on perhaps its toughest stretch of the season as the Bulldogs faced off against two of the top five teams in college hockey and then competed in the Nutmeg Classic over Thanksgiving Break.

On Nov. 18 and 19, Yale (4–6–2, 2–5–1 ECAC Hockey) suffered a weekend sweep at home to conference foes No. 3 St. Lawrence (15–0–1, 13–3–2) and No. 5 Clarkson (8–0–0, 13–3–2). Coming off the two losses, the Bulldogs defeated Connecticut (8–5–3, 3–2–1 Hockey East) in a shootout during the first round of the Nutmeg Classic in Hamden before falling to Merrimack (5–10–2, 2–7–0) in the tournament championship on Saturday.

“I think the most important thing moving forward is staying positive,” defender Taylor Marchin ’17 said. “We know we have what it takes to start winning some games, [and] we just need to stick together and believe we can.”

Last Friday at Ingalls Rink the Elis battled a Saints team riding an eight-game winning streak. St. Lawrence jumped out to a two-goal lead in the second period against Bulldog goaltender Kyra O’Brien ’19, in her first start of the season and just the second of her career.

Saints forward Nadine Edney, who opened the scoring in the first period, stayed hot throughout the contest, completing a hat trick midway through the third period when she scored to extend the St. Lawrence lead to 4–0. Although Yale had a five-on-three power play late in the period, the Bulldogs were unable to capitalize and ultimately fell to the Saints by that same score.

Yale played again the following day against Clarkson, who entered on a nine-game winning streak and also boasted the reigning ECAC Rookie of the Week in forward Michaela Pejzlova. After going scoreless on Friday, the Bulldogs lit the lamp in the first period against the Golden Knights when forward Eden Murray ’18 scored off an assist from forward and captain Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 to give the Bulldogs a 1–0 edge. That lead would not last long, however, as the Golden Knights scored on a power play less than two minutes into the second period after Yip-Chuck was whistled for hooking.

Clarkson then took the lead less than eight minutes later off a goal from forward Cayley Mercer, and extended its advantage early in the third period off of a pair of goals from forwards Rhyen McGill and Bannon. Yale would go on to lose its fourth consecutive ECAC game, 4–1.

“Playing two nationally ranked teams helped us grow and identify the areas in which we need to improve upon to reach our full potential and reach our ultimate goal of being nationally ranked,” defender Saroya Tinker ’20 said. “When we guild each other up, learn from our previously made mistakes and play together as a team, that is when we are at our best.”

One week later, the Bulldogs took the ice against Connecticut in the Nutmeg Classic, hosted by Quinnipiac. The Huskies entered Friday night’s game looking to extend their five-game win streak and avenge a 2013 loss to Yale in the first round of the same tournament.

The Husky and Bulldog defenses showed their strength early on, as neither team allowed a goal in the first period. The two goalies, Annie Belanger and Tera Hofmann ’20, combined for 22 saves in the period. Ten minutes into the second period, a power play for Yale resulted in defender Julia Yetman ’19 finding the back of the net for the third time this season to give Yale the first lead.

The Bulldogs managed to keep their opponents from scoring for nearly the entire game, but with only 11 seconds to go in regulation, a loose puck snagged up by the Huskies resulted in a late goal by forward Justine Fredette to tie the game. After a scoreless overtime period, the two sides went face-to-face in a shootout to determine which team would proceed to the following night’s championship game.

After both squads scored their first two goals, forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 backhanded in the third goal for the Bulldogs and Hofmann saved a shot to send Yale into the championship game.

“While a shootout win is always fun, it’s definitely more nail biting to win in overtime,” Murray said. “That being said, I liked the team’s effort in all three periods.”

With the shootout win, Yale advanced to play Merrimack (5–10–2, 2–7 Hockey East) in the championship game of the tournament. The Warriors were finally able to snap a six-game losing streak in the first round of the Nutmeg Classic, besting No. 8 Quinnipiac in a two-round shootout to secure a spot against the Bulldogs in the final.

Merrimack took a 2–0 lead by the end of the first period thanks to a 37-second scoring spree. Although Murray, Yip-Chuck and forward Emma Vlasic ’19 all registered shots on goal in the first two periods, the Bulldogs could not find the back of the net past Warrior netminder Leá-Kristine Demmers. On the other side of the ice, goals by Warrior forwards Emily Volpe and Katelyn Rae put the score at 4–0 after 40 minutes of play.

Yale came out of the locker room and controlled the game in the third period. Scores by Marchin and forward Laura Anderson ’20 halved Merrimack’s lead, and Marchin netted Yale’s third goal of the night at 19:56 to bring the Elis within one. But the clock proved the Bulldogs’ worst enemy, as Yale could not manage an equalizing goal in the four remaining seconds of the game.

“That third period felt good,” Murray said. “It was telling of our character. We … decided that we wanted better from ourselves and each player made the conscious effort to play better every shift. … That was probably the best third period we have played as a team all season. I’m excited for the transition when we come back from break.”

With next week off, Yale will continue its season on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Ingalls Rink against New Hampshire.