The Yale women’s hockey team opened its season with back-to-back games against the Rochester Institute of Technology. Although the Elis outshot the Tigers 41–20 in the second contest, an overtime heartbreaker prevented them from sweeping the weekend.

The Bulldogs (1–1–0, 0–0–0 ECAC) traveled to New York to face RIT (2–3–1, 0–0–0 College Hockey America) for the first weekend of what will be a grueling four-month season. Although the Elis crushed the Tigers 4–1 and 8–2 in last season’s meetings, they had to come from behind to clinch Friday’s victory before faltering in a one-goal loss on Saturday. Late goals propelled Yale to a 3–1 win in game one, but the Bulldogs could not rekindle their third-period magic again the next day, ultimately falling 2–1.

“Our team was resilient in both games, despite being down, which is great to see,” forward Emily Monaghan ’18 said. “However, I think now we realize that we need to come out of the gates with 100 percent effort if we want to minimize those early deficits.”

Neither RIT nor Yale saw any offensive success in the first 24 minutes of play in Friday night’s matchup, posting just a combined 13 shots in the entire first period. Forward Kandice Sheriff, the Tigers’ leading scorer, lit the lamp to tally her third goal of the season, opening up the scoring early in the second period.

The Bulldogs responded quickly with a goal of their own just four minutes later. A power play aided the advantage for Yale, as Monaghan flicked the puck past RIT goaltender Jessi O’Leary, with assists from forward Greta Skarzynski ’21 and defender Julia Yetman ’19.

The Elis dominated the remainder of the game on both sides of the ice. Goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 defended the Yale goal for the entire 60 minutes, recording 27 saves. On the other side of the ice, the Elis’ veteran forwards carried the offense. Jordan Chancellor ’19 and Captain Kaitlin Gately ’18 both tallied goals during the third period to increase Yale’s lead and help the team clinch the 3–1 victory.

The Tigers’ offense pounced early in Saturday’s game. RIT forward Tori Haywood scored on Yale rookie goaltender Gianna Meloni ’21 halfway through the opening period.

In a  moment of déjà vu from the previous night, the Elis again tied up the game on a power-play opportunity during the second period. Tigers defender Lauren Carroll was slapped with a two-minute penalty for hooking, and the Bulldogs capitalized on their player advantage. Rookie defender Lauren Moriyama ’21 recorded her first point for Yale when she assisted Yetman, who found the back of the net.

“[Our] defense was really good at reading situations, especially on power plays,” Hofmann said. “They did an excellent job of knowing when to cycle it and when to just send one on net … [Yetman] read the situation perfectly, realized there was traffic in front and kept it low which was a really smart shot.”

After Yetman’s goal, the RIT defense settled in and played a near-perfect game for the remaining 32 minutes. Goalie Terra Lanteigne saved a total of 40 shots for the Tigers, frustrating the Yale offense even as it outshot its opponent 18–2 in the third period. Overtime became unavoidable as the clock wound down, and neither team managed to gain a lead.

Although Meloni and the Bulldogs’ defense had thwarted RIT’s scoring attempts for the majority of the game, forward Kendall Cornine scored the game-winning goal just 30 seconds into overtime. The goal was Cornine’s third of the season, placing her on the team’s leaderboard alongside Sheriff and handing the Elis their first lost of the young season.

“I thought we actually played a much more complete game on Saturday despite losing,” Monaghan said. “We outshot [them] but just couldn’t finish our chances. The biggest difference was just our ability to put the puck in the net.”

Although the team would have preferred a weekend sweep, Monaghan said, it learned a lot in its two opening games, especially the necessity of capitalizing on offensive chances. The Elis will have just a week of practice before opening up conference play on Friday.

The Bulldogs will continue their New York tour next weekend, facing off against Rensselaer on Friday and Union on Saturday to open up ECAC competition.

Jane Miller | jane.s.miller@yale.edu