After enduring a winless weekend at Ingalls Rink last weekend, the Yale women’s hockey team will kick off Ivy League play on the road against Dartmouth and Harvard.
Last week, the Elis (1–4–1, 0–3–1 ECAC) had their first homestand of the season, playing two of the strongest teams in the country in No. 3 Clarkson and No. 8 St. Lawrence. They were first blanked 4–0 by the Golden Knights, and then blew two leads in a 3–2 loss against the Saints. This weekend, the Bulldogs are on the road again — where they have won just one of four games this season — and will look to snap a five-game winless streak against Dartmouth (2–4–0, 1–2–0) on Friday before taking on the Crimson (2–1–0, 2–1–0) in a Saturday matinee.
“This weekend is our first big weekend against two evenly matched teams, which is really exciting, especially because the Ivy League title is going to be a battle this year and there isn’t really a clear favorite,” forward Courtney Pensavalle ’18 said. “The Ivy title is always one of our goals each year so everyone’s pumped, especially against a team like Harvard that we have a history with.”
The Elis will be playing particular attention to special teams this weekend. Yale leads the country in penalty minutes, serving an average of 15.8 minutes in the box per game, and while they have the third best penalty kill in the country, the team has stressed the importance of disciplined play moving forward. Staying out of the box will be especially important against the Crimson, who boast the fourth best power play in the nation with a 27.3 percent success rate.
The Bulldogs will be looking to emulate Harvard’s success with some better results of their own when on the player advantage. Heading into the weekend, Yale has scored on four of its 27 power-play opportunities. The game against Dartmouth should provide a good opportunity to get the power-play units going.
“We did a great job penalty killing this weekend, but didn’t produce much on power play,” defender Julia Yetman ’19 said. “That can make all the difference in a close game, and we need to get our power play to match the high standard shown by our penalty kill unit.”
Dartmouth enters the weekend coming off a split series against Maine. The team pulled out a 3–0 shutout in the first game, just its second victory of the year, before falling to the Black Bears 7–2. The Big Green has struggled with keeping pucks out of its own net this season, with a 4.17 goals against average, the third worst in the NCAA.
Both teams have had difficulties getting offense and are tied for fifth worst in the country, scoring just 1.5 goals a game. The Bulldogs will look to rebound in a game of evenly matched opponents after mustering just two goals in two contests last weekend.
“We haven’t changed much going into this weekend,” defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “We went through last weekend’s games and learned from our mistakes, and we are looking to play a full 60 minutes of hockey each day this weekend.”
Harvard will be a more challenging opponent, coming into the matchup with just one loss in a close game against Quinnipiac. The Crimson opened its season with 4–1 and 3–2 wins over Dartmouth and Princeton, and has looked particularly strong defensively, allowing just 1.67 goals per game, good for fifth in the NCAA.
It is bolstered by strong goaltending by netminder Beth Larcom, who boasts a 0.938 save percentage. Harvard also has the most potent offense — other than Clarkson — that Yale has faced this season. The Crimson has played half the number of games the Bulldogs have so far this season, but has scored just one goal fewer than the Bulldogs.
“Last weekend was tough but productive,” Pensavalle said. “We came back Saturday much sharper and with a revitalized spirit and energy. We realized that without a few mistakes and weak plays, we were in the game against Clarkson when we were five-on-five. I’m confident the headway we made will translate this coming weekend as we enter into our Ivy games.”
The puck will drop at Hobey Baker Rink in Hanover at 6:05 p.m. on Friday.
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