Motivated by its recent two-win weekend over Dartmouth and Harvard, the Yale women’s hockey team will continue its quest for an Ivy League championship and a spot in the ECAC conference playoffs as it looks toward a home-and-home against Brown.
The Bulldogs (7–11–3, 5–8–1 ECAC Hockey), who remain in eighth place in the ECAC standings, could potentially bolster their position in the playoff race with success against the 11th-place Bears (5–16–0, 3–11–0). Seventh-seeded Rensselaer, which leads Yale by just two points, faces an uphill battle this weekend against No. 3 Clarkson and No. 5 St. Lawrence, leaving the door open for the Elis to leap in the standings.
“I think last weekend proved to us that not only are we in contention for the Ivy League title but [also] that if we take care of all the little details, have trust and confidence in one another and put forth our consistent and relentless work ethic for a full 60 minutes, we can execute against any team we face,” forward Courtney Pensavalle ’18 said. “The doubleheader against Brown this weekend is crucial for our team to continue building on the momentum we gained last weekend, but will depend heavily on our ability to push the pace and bring the same … high level play and intensity that we demonstrated against Dartmouth and Harvard.”
After starting the season 3–2–0, Brown proceeded to lose its next 11 games, falling by at least three goals in eight of those contests. The Bears’ 10-week skid finally came to an end with a victory over cellar-dwellar Union, but Brown has since lost three of its last four games while being outscored 18–5.
Following a sweep by the top-seeded Golden Knights and Saints, the Bears fell to Harvard last Friday before clinching their fifth win of the season in a 1–0 victory over Dartmouth. Goaltender Monica Elvin’s combined 57 saves over the weekend proved the difference in Brown’s success and earned her ECAC Goaltender of the Week honors.
“[The victory against Dartmouth was a] great team effort,” Brown head coach Robert Keneally said. “It can only help our confidence for this upcoming weekend. Yale has some really potent forwards, especially on [its] top line. We’re going to have to be at the top of our game; we did have an exhibition against them in the beginning of the season and have watched a lot of film, but we’ll need to take it a game at a time.”
Opposite Elvin, Yale goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 was named ECAC Rookie of the Week after saving a career-high 41 shots in Saturday’s win over Harvard and allowing just a single goal during 23 minutes of Yale penalties. Although Yale now leads the ECAC with 174 penalty minutes in 14 conference games, Brown has scored just three goals on 57 power-play opportunities in conference play. Furthermore, the Bears’ offense averages just 1.21 goals per game and ranks last in the ECAC in shots.
Brown’s defensive standing mirrors that of its offense, posting a conference-worst 4.26 goals-against average with a 0.889 save percentage. The Bulldogs will have opportunities for more aggressive play this weekend given the Bears’ anemic power-play and porous defense.
“[Brown is] a hard-working team so we will have to bring energy and momentum right from the very first shift,” forward Eden Murray ’18 said. “I think after two hard-earned wins we’re eager to prove ourselves further this coming weekend and move one step closer to reaching our goal of winning the Ivy title.”
The Bears’ offense will likely require strong performances from forward Sam Donovan to achieve success against the Bulldogs on consecutive nights. The junior leads the team in points and has also scored eight goals this season including two of Brown’s ECAC power-play scores.
Brown is just 1–4–1 against Yale in the last three seasons, most recently taking a pair of losses in 2016. The Bears’ most recent win against the Elis came in a 3–2 overtime victory at Ingalls Rink on Jan. 23, 2015, when Elvin stopped 47 of the Bulldogs’ 49 shots and cleanly staved off three power plays.
“The expectation we hold for ourselves is that we sweep this weekend,” captain and forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 said. “But at any level of hockey you can see how challenging it is to play the same team back-to-back. Anything can happen on any given day, and Brown plays tough, so we’ll need to bring our best hockey this weekend if we want to be successful.”
Yale will take on Brown at 6 p.m. on Friday at Ingalls Rink before traveling to Providence to play the Bears at 3 p.m. on Saturday.