The Yale women’s hockey team has struggled for much of the season, but has an opportunity to gain some valuable points and upward momentum in the ECAC standings against a moribund Brown team this weekend. The Elis are looking to regain their momentum after last weekend’s loss against Princeton ended their positive, back-to-back win start to the new calendar year.
The Elis (5–10–4, 3–7–2) defeated Brown (2–18–0, 1–12 ECAC) last night in a dominant 4–2 victory at Ingalls Rink and will head to Providence looking for a second win on Saturday.
“We had good momentum at the start of the year after our Christmas break,” forward Emma Vlasic ’19 said. “The games against Brown are a good chance for us to try and recapture the energy and pace we had in those games.”
Yale was the first to strike against Brown, taking the lead in the first period and exercising complete control of the play, allowing just two Brown shots on goal. Though the Bears would go on to outshoot the Bulldogs 14–5 in the second period, it was Yale that struck once again in the second frame, with Vlasic scoring her eighth goal of the season. She now has two goals and three points in four games this calendar year.
The Bears cut the lead in half five minutes into the third period, but just one and a half minutes later, Yale’s leading scorer, forward Greta Skarzynski ’21, who scored her ninth goal of the season to recapture the Elis’ two-goal lead. Defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 added an insurance goal to make it 4-1 midway through the final period, and although Brown would score a goal in the last two minutes of the game, Yale remained comfortably in the lead throughout the game.
Brown sits dead last in the ECAC, with just one conference victory, and just two wins total in 20 games this season. The Bears have yet to win in the New Year, and have netted just six goals in their six games in 2018. The Bulldogs successfully took advantage of this favorable matchup, and will look to do the same against a now-familiar opponent when they see the Bears again tomorrow.
Yale has plodded through the season offensively, scoring at a similar pace to the anemic Bears frontline. Their 1.95 goals-per-game mark — greatly bolstered by their power-play performance — is below average in the country. In last night’s game, the Bulldogs successfully capitalized on Brown’s defensive weakness and scored four goals at even strength, a season high. The Elis have scored four or more goals only two other times this season, and in both games three of the goals were scored on the player advantage. The Elis were able to snap their stretch of futility against a particularly porous Brown backline, which allows its opponents to score 4.8 goals per game. Twice in twenty contests this season, Brown has allowed 11 goals in a game, and in 11 other games the team has allowed five or more.
Special teams have been another area of weakness for Brown. The Bears have one of the worst penalty kills in the NCAA and are 34th out of 40 teams in the nation with just a 77 percent success rate. Though the Bulldogs were 0–2 on the player advantage last night, their power play has been a bright spot of the season. The Elis, who are the fifth-best team in the nation with an opposing player in the box, will look for a further offensive boost on the power play, as well as continued improvement on five-on-five scoring, in Saturday’s game against the Bears.
Rookie netminder Gianna Meloni ’21 got the start in net in Thursday’s game against the Bears, and made 21 saves on 23 shots in the win. Meloni has had a strong start to the New Year, earning a 40-save shutout against Quinnipiac last weekend and allowing just one goal after stepping into the game against Princeton in the second period. In three appearances this year, she has a 96.1 save percentage. Meloni has split time with Tera Hofmann ’20, who will most likely play on Saturday in the next meeting with the Bears. After recording her first shutout of the season against the Bobcats on Jan. 2, Hofmann lasted only a period against Princeton, allowing two goals on 14 shots. A winnable game against an opponent that has struggled with scoring should provide a chance for Hofmann to regain her top form.
The Elis’ road record has been better than their performance on home ice; the team is 3–6 at Ingalls, and 3–4–2 while visiting their opponents. Furthermore, the Bears’ only two victories have come on the road, which means that Yale can come into Meehan Auditorium with a good chance of sweeping their season series against Brown.
Masha Galay | email@example.com