The Yale women’s hockey team took a break from road games this weekend as it welcomed opponents at Ingalls Rink for the first time this season. But, ultimately the Bulldog’s home-ice advantage did not help, as they endured another winless weekend: falling to both Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
The Elis (1–4–1, 0–3–1 ECAC Hockey) remained winless in conference play as they took on two nationally ranked teams. They were blanked by No. 3 Clarkson (10–1–1, 3–1–0) — the top team in the conference and the defending national champion — in a 4–0 loss. The following night, the team put in a much stronger performance against No. 7 St. Lawrence (5–3–2, 3–1–0), but ultimately fell 3–2 after losing the lead twice in the game.
“Our team took a big step forward in the St. Lawrence game and showed that we can compete with any team in the league,” defender Julia Yetman ’19 said. “We did a much better job of setting the pace, playing good team defense and creating chances for ourselves offensively. We were relentless against SLU and came much closer to playing a solid 60 minutes than we have in other games so far this season.”
In Friday’s game, Clarkson dominated from the moment the puck was dropped. It peppered starting goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 with 13 shots and slipped two pucks past her in the opening period, separated by just 73 seconds. The first one came on a breakaway, whereas the second puck crossed the line after Hofmann gave up a rebound chance to Loren Gabel, who is in the top-ten in both points and goals in the NCAA.
The second period got off to a disheartening start for the Elis, as Clarkson scored yet again just 16 seconds into the frame. This prompted head coach Joakim Flygh to make a goaltending change, sending in netminder Kyra O’Brien ’19 to upend the momentum of the game.
O’Brien’s performance in net gave the Elis a change to rally, as she made 27 of 28 saves against the fourth most efficient offense in the country while allowing just one goal. But, her Clarkson counterpart prevented any chance of a Yale comeback. Shea Tiley, who leads the NCAA in shutouts with five in 12 games, proved unsolvable for Yale’s attack. The Elis were ultimately outshot 42–18 in the contest.
“We came out a little slow and made some mistakes, and Clarkson was able to capitalize on them,” defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “Any good team will do that, and we need to learn how not to give up those kind of chances.”
The Bulldogs looked much sharper against SLU, as the Bulldogs took advantage of their opportunities early in the game. Forward Eden Murray ’18 scored her first goal of the season after Souliotis’ shot from the blue line was deflected; Murray jumped on the rebound to give the Bulldogs their first goal of the weekend.
Yale then ran into penalty trouble in the remainder of the period, committing three minor infractions and giving the Saints ample time on the player advantage. Though the Elis were able to blank St. Lawrence on its first two power plays, the third proved costly as Kayla Vespa evened the score with just two and a half minutes to play in the period.
Yale once again took the lead in the second frame, as forward Greta Skarzynski ’21 tapped in a rebound for her first career goal. Yet, the Saints responded late once again, scoring with just four seconds remaining in the period. St. Lawrence took their first lead of the game 4:08 into the third period, and the rest of the frame saw Yale frantically push for the equalizer.
With an empty net and an extra attacker on the ice, Courtney Pensavalle ’18 appeared to score with only a minute left on the clock. However, after video review, the call was overturned, with the officials ruling that she knocked the puck into the net with her hand. Yale was unable to convert in the remaining seconds of the game and eventually failed to gather any points in their first homestand.
“Against St. Lawrence we came out with a lot of urgency to start the game,” Souliotis said. “We have struggled with starting games this season and many times we end up playing from behind and having to battle back, so it was really nice to take the lead early in the game. That goal allowed us to build momentum from the get-go, which was something we were missing from the Clarkson game.”
A running theme this season for the Bulldogs has been their lack of discipline, as Yale leads the country in penalty minutes — 95 in just six games played. This weekend, the Elis continued to put their opponents on the player advantage and although they spent less time in the box than in previous weekends, the players recognized the need to lighten their reliance on the penalty kill.
This aspect of Yale’s game has been particularly strong, and the team’s 90.6 success rate on the penalty kill is good for third best in the NCAA. This weekend the goaltenders and the penalty kill unit limited Clarkson, which is top six in the country on the power play, and St Lawrence to a combined one power-play tally on eight chances.
“Leading the country in penalty minutes per game is not something to be proud of,” Souliotis said. “The team recognizes that we need to be more disciplined and try to avoid situations where the ref[eree]s can call penalties on us, and there is still room for improvement. That being said, everyone, from the forwards to the defense to the goalie, has really stepped it up on the penalty kill.”
The Bulldogs are on the road again next weekend as they play Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Harvard.
Masha Galay | firstname.lastname@example.org