After missing out on the ECAC playoffs a year ago, the Yale women’s hockey team suffered the same result it had endured in its previous two postseason appearances, after a pair of defeats to No. 5 St. Lawrence knocked the team out of the tournament in the first round.
The second-seeded Saints (26–4–4, 16–3–3 ECAC Hockey) hosted the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (10–17–4, 8–12–2) in Canton for a best-of-three series to determine who would advance to the conference semifinals. Although the Elis kept the score close for the first half of both games, their inability to execute offensively led them to be swept by St. Lawrence 4–1 and 4–0 in the two contests.
“[This season] was an incredible experience,” goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 said. “I feel like I have developed so much … I think it’s important that I keep competing on and off the ice. I’ve learned that every little thing makes a difference, so moving forward I’d like to be able to focus on improving the small details in order to make my overall play better.”
On Friday, in the Bulldogs’ first matchup, Hofmann kept the Bulldogs alive throughout the opening frame, allowing only one goal despite St. Lawrence outshooting Yale 11–4. Forward Brooke Webster, the Saints’ leading scorer and finalist for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Award who boasts 22 goals this season, managed to shoot the puck past Hofmann, giving St. Lawrence a one-goal advantage 15 minutes into the game. The score remained 1–0 until more than halfway through the second period, when St. Lawrence took control offensively and never looked back.
Justine Reyes scored at 12:40 of the second period and teammate Hannah Miller followed up with another goal under two minutes later. This offensive burst left Yale with a three-goal deficit heading into the final period.
The next goal of the night also came from St. Lawrence. This time, the Saints scored on a power play while defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 sat in the penalty box for hooking.
With just under 10 minutes left to play, Yale’s offensive line produced its only goal of the weekend when forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 and captain and forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17 assisted on a power-play goal by forward Eden Murray ’18. Unfortunately, the late goal was not enough to propel the Bulldogs toward a comeback, and the final score remained 4–1 at the buzzer.
“I thought we fought hard,” Murray said. “St. Lawrence has a strong first line, and they used that to their advantage. We have also been short numbers for six of the last 10 games and I think that wore on us. We put up a good fight and I was proud to be a part of that.”
Saturday’s game was more of the same, as Yale was significantly outshot and outscored en route to a shutout victory by the Saints. Forward Kennedy Marchment, another Kazmaier nominee, broke the ice and put St. Lawrence ahead 1–0 late in the first period by firing a shot past goaltender Kyra O’Brien ’19, who was making her first appearance in the last nine games. The tally was Marchment’s 54th point of the season.
Coming out of the intermission trailing by one, the Bulldogs power play unit failed to take advantage of a tripping minor on the Saints and seize any momentum early in the second period. Less than a minute after that penalty expired, Marchment wristed another shot into the Yale cage, extending the Bulldogs’ deficit to two.
When forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 was sent to the box for interference later in the frame, it was St. Lawrence who was able to take advantage of a miscue by the opposition. Webster promptly netted her second goal in as many games on the power play opportunity, extending the Saints’ advantage to 3–0. The score led head coach Joakim Flygh to pull O’Brien in favor of Hofmann midway through the second period.
Thirteen seconds after the substitution, the Saints struck again, as Reyes scored the home squad’s third goal of the period to make it 4–0. In a penalty-ridden final stanza, the Bulldogs’ special teams successfully killed off three penalties, but failed to find the net and only registered six shots on goal in what would be their final period of the season. With the win, Saints goaltender Grace Harrison registered her ninth shutout of the season, second best in the NCAA.
Yale, playing in a conference tournament that featured five of the top 10 teams in college hockey, was eliminated in the first round of the ECAC playoffs for the third straight time and defeated by St. Lawrence for the fourth time this season. With the loss, the Bulldogs also failed to force what would have been a winner-take-all game three on Sunday afternoon.
“[Despite the losses], we improved substantially from last year,” Murray said. “I’m excited going into next season because I know we have a lot to look forward to and a lot to work on for next season.”
St. Lawrence will take on third-seeded No. 7 Cornell in the semifinals of the 2017 ECAC Women’s Championship, hosted by No. 3 Clarkson. The victor of that contest will have a date in the conference championship game with the winner of the matchup between the Golden Knights and No. 8 Princeton.