The Yale women’s hockey team returned home empty-handed from its opening weekend of ECAC play, tying Rensselaer 2–2 before falling 3–1 to Union.
The Elis (1–2–1, 0–1–1 ECAC) were underwhelming on their road trip to upstate New York, failing to find success against two beatable opponents in Rensselaer (3–4–1, 1–0–1) and Union (2–5–1, 2–0–0). Since winning their opening game of the season, the Bulldogs have lost twice, tied once and struggled offensively, lighting the lamp just four times in those three games.
“The game against Union in particular showed us where some gaps in our game are that we need to work on this week going into [our first home weekend],” forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 said. “It also was a good first look at our conference this year and where we fit into the mix.”
The Bulldogs started off the Friday night matchup against the Engineers sluggishly. They took three penalties in the opening period, including two just 20 seconds apart toward the end of the frame that handed the Engineers a five-on-three advantage for over a minute and a half. Rensselaer dominated the play and outshot the Elis 15–6 in the period, but a strong performance from goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 kept the game scoreless.
The Bulldogs continued to spend time in the box — they finished the game with 27 penalty minutes assessed on eight infractions — and in the second period they finally paid for their lack of discipline. Forward Kaitlin Gately ’18 was whistled for hooking, and on the subsequent power play Rensselaer finally exploited the player advantage.
The Eli power play unit proved just as adept, though, and almost exactly three minutes later they took advantage of a special team opportunity to equalize. Defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 hammered home a rebound on the doorstep, with Chancellor and Laura Anderson ’20 picking up assists. The Engineers again monopolized offensive-zone possession and chances, outshooting the Elis once again in the second period, this time 13–5. They had the final word in the frame, taking a 2–1 lead on a rebound at 12:15.
Down a goal entering the final stanza, the Bulldogs emerged from the locker room re-energized and earned their due reward for an increased third-period effort. After pushing for most of the period, forward Courtney Pensavalle ’18 potted the game-tying goal with 10:04 remaining in regulation after RPI’s goaltender mishandled the rebound off a shot from defender Julia Yetman ’19.
With both teams pushing for the winner, the Engineers received a golden opportunity to steal the points, when Chancellor was ejected for a hit from behind at 13:05. The Bulldog penalty kill came up huge, stifling the Rensselaer offense for the entire five-minute penalty. The Elis took another penalty toward the tail end of Chancellor’s, but the Engineers couldn’t break the deadlock with the two-player advantage. Hofmann finished the game with 36 saves and played a crucial role in keeping the score tied at the end of regulation.
Yale dominated the extra five minutes of the game, outplaying RPI for the first time in the matchup. The Elis put six shots on goal, while preventing Rensselaer from taking any against Hofmann, but were unable to find a decisive finish, and the final horn sounded with the score knotted at 2–2.
“Tera definitely kept us in the game,” Pensavalle said. “We were definitely playing a good team game by the end with more urgency. We just need to start games with that same level of intensity.”
After benefitting from a superb goaltending performance on Friday night, the Bulldogs ended up on the losing side of Saturday’s game during which the opposing netminder stole the show. Union’s Coco Francis made 30 saves to give the Dutchwomen their second win of the season. Netminder Gianna Meloni ’21 made her second start of the year and gave the Bulldogs a good chance to win, stopping 15 of 17 shots. But she was unable to match Francis’ display at the other end of the ice.
Union had the lone goal in the first period, an unassisted tally that left Yale once again chasing the game. More penalty trouble had the Elis down 2–0, as the Dutchwomen extended their lead with a power-play goal in the second period. The Bulldogs cut the lead in half with a goal of their own on the player advantage halfway through the game, as defender Kara Drexler ’18 scored unassisted on the power play at 15:06. But, that tally was all that Francis would allow, and despite being outshot by Yale 31–18, Union sealed its win with an empty-net goal.
The Bulldogs will face Clarkson and St. Lawrence this weekend as they play at Ingalls Rink for the first time this season.
Masha Galay | firstname.lastname@example.org