In its last pair of games before the start of the spring semester, the Yale women’s hockey team found itself on both sides of a shutout, beating Quinnipiac 2–0 before being blanked the next night in a 3–0 loss at Princeton.
The victory against the Bobcats (13–11–2, 9–7–0 ECAC) marked Yale’s second shutout win over its local rival in 2018. The Bulldogs’ (5–10–4, 3–7–2) first game of the new year, on Jan. 2, was a 1–0 victory over Quinnipiac, which currently sits third in the conference standings. After the impressive start to the calendar year, however, the Bulldogs got a taste of their own medicine as Princeton (8–10–4, 7–8–1) stopped all 21 of Yale’s shots.
“Against Princeton we came out of the gate a little flat and let them get a lead on us,” forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 said. “We need to make some adjustments on our preparation for the second game of the weekend in the future.”
In the Elis’ first game of the year against Quinnipiac, it was goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 who was flawless in the 1–0 victory with 37 stops. This time, it was rookie goalie Gianna Meloni ’21 who stole the game for the Bulldogs, who were outshot 40–15. Meloni blanked the Bobcats and even picked up a secondary assist on the second goal of the match.
The Bulldogs continued to rely on their power play for offense, scoring both the game’s goals with a Quinnipiac player in the box. Scoring on the player advantage has continued to be one of Yale’s biggest strengths, with the team successfully converting on over a quarter of its power play opportunities, good for fifth in the nation.
In the two teams’ first meeting of the year, the Elis amassed a staggering 12 minutes in the penalty box. This weekend, they lowered that number but still struggled with playing clean, spending six minutes in the box. All three of Yale’s penalties were served in the second period, but its special teams kept the Bobcats off the scoreboard and capitalized on its own pair of power plays.
After a scoreless first frame in which the Bulldogs and Bobcats each fired off seven shots, Chancellor found the back of the net twice in the second period. On the Elis’ first player advantage, Chancellor knocked in a rebound from a shot by forward Emma Vlasic ’19, assisted by defender Julia Yetman ’19, to hand her team the lead. Vlasic now has two goals and three assists in three games against Quinnipiac this season, including the lone goal in the 1–0 victory.
Seven minutes later and less than 20 seconds in the Bulldogs’ second and final power play of the match, Chancellor returned to widen the lead to two, where it would remain for the rest of the game.
“We definitely made some mistakes and we were lucky that [Quinnipiac was] unable to capitalize, so we will take note and make sure we learn from them for next time,” defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “Special teams was key in both games, scoring a shorthanded goal in the first game, and then taking advantage of the two power plays, our execution was there. It shows just how well we can play, and we still haven’t played our best.”
The Elis were unable to ride their streak to a victory against Princeton, however, as the Tigers held Yale scoreless while netting a trio of goals. Yale’s primary challenge came in its inability to solve netminder Steph Neatby, who is top-15 in the NCAA with a 92.7 save percentage. Yale has struggled with offense at even strength, which has dragged down its goals per game average to 1.84 and placed it in the nation’s bottom 10 in scoring.
Although Yale’s special teams have been a highlight, the Tigers, whose penalty kill is ranked sixth in the NCAA with an 89.8 percent success rate, were also able to blank Yale’s four power play opportunities. Hoffman started in goal, but after allowing two goals — both scored by forward Carly Bullock, the Tigers’ leading goalscorer — on 14 shots in the first period, she was pulled in favor of Meloni. The rookie goaltender also ultimately faced 14 shots, allowing one final goal in the third frame.
The Elis spent 10 minutes of the match in the box after taking five penalties, and remain the most penalized team in the NCAA. While Yale successfully killed all of these penalties, Princeton had already jumped out to an early 2–0 lead 13 minutes into the first period, which gave the Bulldogs less time to try to cut into the deficit.
Throughout the season, the Bulldogs have been regularly outshot by their opponents. The Tigers outshot Yale 14–6 in the first period and 28–21 for the match. And although Yale beat Quinnipiac in the two latest conference meetings this year, the Bobcats outshot the Elis 37–18 and 40–15, respectively.
“Ultimately, we need to win both games [next weekend],” Soulitis said. “Heading towards the end of the season, we need points to make the playoffs. Although we are not in the playoff picture right now, this weekend will be huge if we are able to execute and finish both games.”
Yale next plays a two-game series against Brown, hosting the Bears on Thursday at 7 p.m. before traveling to Providence for a Saturday matinee.
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