Coming off its best weekend so far this season, the Yale women’s hockey team looks to continue its strong play this week against a pair of ranked opponents No. 3 Colgate and No. 8 Cornell.
The Bulldogs (2–4–2, 1–3–2 ECAC) earned three of a possible four points in their first slate of Ivy League play last weekend, crushing Dartmouth 5–1, before fighting to a tie against a talented Harvard squad. This weekend, the team looks to continue its point streak and to secure its first home victory this season, playing the Raiders (11–1–0, 3–1–0) on Friday before facing the Big Red (3–3–0, 3–1–0) the next afternoon.
“We’re very excited to have had a three-point weekend against Ivy teams and are looking to carry that momentum into our games this weekend,” defender Saroya Tinker ’20 said. “Our level of play last weekend gives us confidence going into a challenging weekend.”
First up for the Elis is Colgate (11–1–0, 3–1), a team that displays its strength in all three zones. The Raiders have suffered only one loss this season, a 3–1 defeat against No. 7 St. Lawrence on Oct. 28. With the exception of the loss to the Saints, Colgate has consistently demonstrated superb goaltending and defense, as well as a scoring touch.
The Raiders have allowed just 15 goals in 12 games, while scoring 44 of their own, giving them the fifth-best scoring margin in the country. Their starting goaltender, Julia Vandyk, is second best in the NCAA with a 95.2 save percentage.
The Colgate defense is particularly stingy, allowing barely more than a goal a game, the fourth-best mark nationally. The Elis, who scored six of their total 16 goals last weekend, will have to maintain their offensive momentum from last weekend to create and finish chances in the Raider zone.
Special teams will be a key facet of the game. The Bulldogs rode their power play to their best result of the season against Dartmouth, with three of their five goals coming on the player advantage. Exploiting the Raider’s penalty kill will be key to success on Friday.
“We saw a lot of good things come together, but we haven’t played to our full potential yet, so we are still working on filling in some gaps,” forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 said. “I have confidence that we can continue improving every week as the season goes on.”
The Bulldogs then face another Ivy League opponent, Cornell. Last weekend, the Big Red played a two-game series with No. 1 Wisconsin, putting up a challenge in both matches but ultimately falling 3–1 and 2–1. Rookie forward Maddie Mills scored both Big Red goals on the weekend and now leads her team in goals, power play goals and shot percentage.
Saturday’s game will be a showdown between particularly strong special teams. The Elis stand tied at fifth nationally on both the power play and penalty kill. However, Yale will face a steep challenge against the Big Red — Cornell’s penalty kill is ranked fourth in the nation, having allowed just two goals in the 23 occasions its opponents have been on the player advantage. The Big Red is the first team Yale has faced to perform better with a player in the penalty box, but Cornell has a much less potent power play than Yale, converting on just 14.3 percent of its opportunities.
Both teams have struggled to find energy in the opening frame; the Elis got off to slow starts against both Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend, while Cornell has not yet scored a first-period goal. At the same time, the Big Red defense has allowed just one first-frame goal in six games, an early tally by Wisconsin last week. Cornell’s three wins this season have all been by at least two goals, with the Big Red scoring the first goal of each match. If Yale can disrupt Cornell’s momentum early, it should bode well for the Bulldogs as they look to add to last weekend’s point total.
“[Colgate and Cornell] are both very good, strong, tough teams, and this weekend will be a challenge for us as a whole,” Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “How we play this weekend and our attitude will be a good indicator of where this season will go, and we are looking to become more consistent, and play a full 60 minutes of hockey.”
Saturday’s matinee will present an opportunity to break a losing streak against Cornell that spans eight years, dating back to January 2009. The Big Red also leads the all-time series 56–12–2.
The puck drops at Ingalls Rink at 6 p.m. Friday against Colgate and 3 p.m. Saturday against Cornell.
Masha Galay | firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Xiao | email@example.com