For the Yale women’s hockey team, the final games of the winter break represented possibly the toughest stretch of the season: two road games against nationally ranked ECAC foes.
Although the Bulldogs (5–11–3, 3–8–1 ECAC Hockey) started off slow before flexing their defensive strength, they ultimately fell to No. 3 Clarkson (17–3–4, 11–0–1) on Friday and No. 5 St. Lawrence (18–2–2, 10–1–1) on Saturday.
“This weekend we played well but not to our full potential,” defender Saroya Tinker ’20 said. “I think we showed that we can compete with the top teams in our division, and we shouldn’t be underestimated, [but] with that said, we still have a lot to improve on.”
Yale currently sits in eighth place in the ECAC standings, between Rensselaer and Dartmouth. In order to stay in the top eight of the conference and qualify for the conference tournament, it will be crucial for Yale to win its upcoming games, especially the next three games which are against teams the Bulldogs top in the standings.
In the top half of the first period, Yale was able to keep the Golden Knights’ conference-leading scoring offense in check. However, midway through the opening frame Clarkson went on the power play when forward Emma Vlasic ’19 was sent to the penalty box for a hooking minor. The opposition capitalized on the five-on-four advantage and went ahead 1–0 off a goal from defender Ella Shelton.
Just two minutes into the second period, the Bulldog penalty kill unit was called on again when defender Kara Drexler ’18 was whistled for holding, but Yale managed to prevent the Golden Knights from doubling their lead. The Elis finally got on the board less than eight minutes into the period when captain and forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 fired a shot past the Clarkson netminder off an assist from Drexler.
After the teams went into the second intermission even at 1–1, the Golden Knights reclaimed the lead when forward Amanda Titus sent the puck past Bulldog goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20.
Undeterred, Yale continued to battle and with less than five minutes remaining in the final period, Clarkson forward Cassidy Vinkle was called for checking. With an extra attacker, the Bulldogs promptly drew level only 10 seconds into the power play, as defender Taylor Marchin ’17 scored to make it 2–2.
But just as it seemed the two teams would be headed into overtime, Clarkson forward Michaela Pejzlova tallied a decisive goal with three minutes remaining to give the Golden Knights a lead they would not relinquish. Forward Cayley Mercer then dashed any final hopes of a Yale victory with an additional goal just 74 seconds later to seal Clarkson’s 4–2 victory.
“We just need to continue to improve on being more consistent in our play, eliminating small mental and technical mistakes, and playing a full 60 minutes of hockey at the level necessary to compete with the top teams in the nation,” Yip-Chuck said.
In Saturday’s game at St. Lawrence, the Saints jumped to an early lead, scoring during the fifth minute of the opening period. Forward Kennedy Marchment, the ECAC’s leading scorer, was the first to find the back of the net for either team.
Just a few minutes later, defender Amanda McClure gave St. Lawrence a two-goal lead after scoring on a pass from teammate Hannah Miller. St. Lawrence had a 4–0 lead over Yale by end of the first period following a second goal from McClure and another from forward Nadine Edney.
After St. Lawrence outshot Yale 21–6 in the first period, the Bulldogs rallied and evened out offensive control of the puck, taking six shots on goal compared to the Saints’ seven. Regardless, the middle frame ended scoreless and the Saints retained their four-goal lead.
With one period left, the Bulldogs needed to increase their shots to have any chance of closing the gap. An opportunity arose for the Elis in the sixth minute when Miller was called for tripping and Yale gained control of the puck for a power play.
Vlasic found defender Mallory Souliotis ’18, who shot and scored Yale’s first and only goal of the night.
“[The goal] resulted from a lot of hard work and relentless puck pursuit on the power play,” Souliotis said. “We were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone and control it, which eventually opened up an opportunity for me to take the puck to the net and shoot.”
After cutting the deficit to three goals, the Bulldogs continued to control the game offensively. In the third period, they took nine shots-on-goal but all failed to get past St. Lawrence goalie, Grace Harrison. The game concluded with the Saints winning 4–1, leaving Yale with a two-loss weekend.
The Bulldogs return to Ingalls Rink this week to kick off a series of five consecutive games against Ivy League opponents. Yale hosts Dartmouth on Friday at 6 p.m. and Harvard the following day at 3 p.m.