Last Friday, the Yale women’s hockey team overcame a three-goal deficit in the third period to defeat Union 5–4. Six days later, the Bulldogs seemed on the verge of coming back again, cutting a 3–0 Boston University lead to 3–2.
But the Terriers (7–8–3, 3–6–3 Hockey East) would go on to score two goals in the final two minutes to seal the victory. Yale will have little time to recover from the 5–2 home loss, however, as the Elis (3–8–4, 2–6–2 ECAC) travel to New Hampshire (7–6–5, 5–3–3 Hockey East) on Sunday for their final game of 2017.
“I don’t think 5–2 is any indication of where the game was at — we played well,” head coach Joakim Flygh said. “We have six weeks left after break, and you have to get points every weekend, hopefully two at least, or three or four. If we can do that every week of the second half of the season and get points, I think we’ll have a great opportunity to get into playoffs.”
Against B.U., the Elis again struggled with a weak start. Although the Bulldogs narrowly outshot the Terriers in the first two quarters, taking 20 attempts to Boston’s 19, they entered the third period down 3–0.
The teams traded shots evenly in the opening minutes of the game, but Yale found itself in the penalty box eight minutes into play and the Terriers capitalized on the advantage. After three missed shots, B.U. slapped the puck past goalie Kyra O’Brien ’19 to earn the early lead.
The Elis responded with a series of attempts, but all were blocked by B.U. goalie Corrinn Schroeder. Four minutes after their first goal, the Terriers notched a second to bring the score to 2–0, where it remained for the rest of the frame. Yale could not crack Schroeder in the second period, either, while Boston racked up its third tally with a mid-frame shot to put the Elis in the same position going into the final period as they were on Saturday against Union, when Yale overcame a 3–0 deficit to win in overtime.
B.U. gave Yale its first opportunity when, just a minute into the final frame, the referee called a penalty for slashing. Rookie forward Greta Skarzynski ’21 fired off the Bulldogs’ first shot on the player advantage but was met by a save from Schroeder. Off the next face-off, Skarzynski shot again, assisted by defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 and defender Julia Yetman ’19, to give Yale its first tally of the match.
Yale’s second goal came with five minutes remaining in play. The Bulldogs were caught up in a scuffle at the corner of the rink, when, off assists from Skarzynski and defender Saroya Tinker ’20, forward Emma Vlasic ’19 directed the puck to the lower corner to cut the deficit to one.
It seemed possible that lightning would strike twice for the Bulldogs, in the form of a second comeback from 3–0 in the span of a week, but B.U. responded three minutes later with a goal of its own to widen the gap again. And then, with 20 seconds left, the Boston Terriers notched an empty net goal to conclude the game 5–2.
“[To conclude the semester] we’re going to try and put together … full games with consistent play like we saw in the third period against Union,” forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 said. “We’re dealing with a lot of injuries on the team right now so the December break will be good for all of us to take some time and get healthy again.”
The Elis travel north on Sunday to face New Hampshire. The Wildcats are a balanced team, coming in about average in the NCAA in goals scored and goals against, and are a fairly disciplined team, spending less time in the penalty box than the national average. They are above average on the power play, converting on almost 20 percent of their chances on the player advantage, and rookie goaltender Ava Boutilier has been solid in net, boasting a top-20 save percentage of 92.4.
New Hampshire’s weakness, however, plays to the Elis strength — the Wildcats are 29th of 40 teams in the NCAA on the penalty kill, successfully keeping the puck out of their net when at a disadvantage just over 80 percent of the time. Yale’s power play, meanwhile, is fifth most effective in the country, converting on 24.5 percent of opportunities.
The Elis’ scoring touch on the player advantage has been key to their three victories, with the team scoring at least one power play goal in each win, and three in the pair of five-goal victories against Dartmouth and Union. Eleven of the squad’s 28 total goals have come with an opposing player in the box, so taking advantage of the Wildcat’s subpar penalty kill will be the key to success for a Bulldog team that has struggled to produce offense at five-on-five, averaging just two goals per game.
“From here, we need to make playoffs,” Souliotis said. “It’s as simple as that. Only the top eight teams make playoffs, and right now we are not in contention. We need to take control of our destiny and start getting points every weekend of ECAC play, and hopefully some other teams can help us out.”
Yale will then ring in the new year with an early January home and home series against local rival Quinnipiac, a team Yale has already faced once this season. In that game, the Bulldogs battled back from 3–1 down to start the third, tying the game with two goals 27 seconds apart in the first five minutes of the third frame. A scoreless overtime earned the Elis a draw in the standings, although the game later went to a shootout that the Bobcats won 2–1.
After the double header with Quinnipiac, Yale will take on Princeton on Jan. 13.
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