Having already clinched an ECAC playoff berth, the Yale women’s hockey team looked to build off a 5–2–1 record this weekend in its last eight contests and refine its game before postseason play. But in their last conference series of the regular season, the Bulldogs saw any momentum from previous weeks come to grinding halt on a northern road trip against Harvard and Dartmouth.
Despite previous successes, including a win against No. 9 Princeton and a draw versus No. 7 Cornell, Yale (10–15–4, 8–12–2 ECAC Hockey) was dominated by the Crimson (5–19–5, 5–13–4) and the Big Green (7–21–0, 5–17–0). The 5–0 and 4–1 defeats marked the worst aggregate result in a weekend series for the Elis since November 2013.
“Obviously the past two games did not go the way we wanted them to,” defender Julia Yetman ’19 said. “I think those games showed us that nothing is given and we need to play our best hockey regardless of who we are facing. We know that we need to show up to practice focused and ready to work this week as we are heading into playoffs, but I have no doubt that we will bounce back and come out flying next weekend.”
Yale suffered defeat at the hands of Harvard in Cambridge on Friday evening in its first game of the road trip. Less than five minutes into the first period, the home squad opened the scoring after forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 was sent to the box for high sticking. On the ensuing power play, Harvard forward Sydney Daniels gathered a loose puck in the Bulldog crease and promptly wristed it past goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 to give the Crimson an early 1–0 lead.
After coming away successful on its next two penalty kills, Yale almost drew level when a shot by forward Laura Anderson ’20 deflected off the crossbar with under 30 seconds to go. Instead, the Bulldogs went into the first intermission trailing by one.
Harvard doubled its lead after Daniels scored her team- leading 11th goal less than seven minutes into the second period. Crimson forward Briana Mastel centered the puck across the crease which found itself on the end of Daniels’ stick. The Southwick, Massachusetts, native made no mistake and deflected the pass over Hofmann and into the net yet again to increase the Crimson’s advantage to two goals.
Harvard continued to pressure offensively and lit the lamp again with 8:13 remaining in the middle frame when forward Bradley Fusco’s wraparound pass was gathered in the crease and tapped in by forward Kate Hallett to make it 3–0. With under 30 seconds to go in the second period, the Crimson struck again off a tally from defender Chelsea Ziadie to stretch the Bulldogs’ deficit to four goals.
Yale had an opportunity to get on the board when Harvard defender Natasha Rachlin was sent to penalty box for a checking minor at 8:40 in the third period. However, a great shot-blocking effort from the Crimson blueliners, as well as some key stops by goaltender Brianna Laing, prevented the Bulldogs from erasing their goose egg. Harvard would ultimately add another goal at 16:16 in the third and emerge victorious by a score of 5–0.
Yale’s woes continued the following afternoon in Hanover. After defeating the Big Green 3–0 when the teams met earlier this season, Dartmouth flipped the script on the Bulldogs with a 4–1 victory. Three goals from Dartmouth forward Kennedy Ottenbreit and a total of 29 saves from goaltender Robyn Chemago sealed Yale’s fate.
Though the Big Green outshot the Bulldogs 10–6 in the opening frame, neither team found the back of the net in a scoreless first period. Yale’s closest call in the first 20 minutes came again from Anderson but a review concluded her shot never made past the goal line. Yale dominated puck control and outshot Dartmouth 16–10 in the second period but failed to capitalize on their offensive opportunities.
The Big Green, on the other hand, scored twice during the middle period. The first of the two goals, both scored by Ottenbreit, came during a Dartmouth power play just two minutes into the second period. Seven minutes later, Ottenbreit followed through on a shot by teammate Sydney Hill to once again send the puck past goaltender Hanna Mandl ’17, who made her first start since Dec. 10.
With under seven minutes left in the game, Yale scored on its first power-play opportunity when forward Emma Vlasic ’19 sent a pass to Anderson from behind the net which Anderson shot past Chemago to put Yale on the scoreboard. But Ottenbreit’s hat trick achieved earlier in the period and an empty net goal by forward Morgan Turner in the game’s final minutes put a win out of reach for the Bulldogs.
Even with the two-loss weekend, Yale remains securely in seventh in the ECAC and will continue on to the conference playoffs next week against No. 5 St. Lawrence in a best-of-three series. After making the playoffs in 2015, Yale fell one point short of postseason play last year.
“Last season was really tough, especially coming so close and being left out of the playoffs,” forward Emily Monaghan ’18 said. “I think that really fueled the fire this season, and we made sure to ensure that we secured a playoff spot this year.”
The Bulldogs will take on the Saints at 6 p.m on Friday and 3 p.m on Saturday in Canton, New York, with another game scheduled for Sunday afternoon if necessary.