The Yale women’s hockey team will look to build off its best weekend of the year and its second consecutive four-point showing as it faces off this weekend against a pair of familiar foes.
Last week, the Bulldogs (7–10–4, 5–7–2 ECAC) swept Brown 4–2 and 3–0 to notch their first two-win week of the season. This weekend, with just a month remaining in regular season conference play, the Elis will look to extend their streak while hosting Harvard (8–10–1, 6–7–1) and Dartmouth (4–14–1, 2–11–1).
“Going into this weekend, we need to make sure we come out fast and start games well,” defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “Special teams will continue to be crucial to our success. Both are Ivy League games, so we need to find ways to win and get points this weekend to put ourselves in a position to win the Ivy title.”
Yale was successful the last time it faced these opponents, earning its first conference points of the season. The Elis handily defeated the Big Green 5–1, before tying Harvard 2–2 the next day in a game that extended into overtime. This time, the Bulldogs will play on home ice, hosting the Crimson on Friday afternoon before playing Dartmouth the next day.
The Harvard matchup should be the more closely contested of the two games. In November, the Crimson got off to a 2–0 lead before the Bulldogs battled back to end regulation with the scoreboard leveled at two.
The change in momentum for the Bulldogs came with a late second-frame tally from forward Greta Skarzynski ’21. With a one-goal deficit going into the final minute and a half of regulation play, head coach Joakim Flygh pulled Yale’s goalie for another offensive player. The call paid off; with one minute and four seconds left on the clock, forward Emma Vlasic ’19 notched the equalizer.
“We’re starting to come on really strong,” forward Courtney Pensavalle ’18 said. “We had a really good start to the year; our goaltending has been excellent. Things are starting to come together a little bit.”
Harvard entered the first contest atop the ECAC standings but has since dropped to seventh — one place above Yale, which sits at eighth. While the Bulldogs have gotten off to a strong start in 2018, winning four of their five contests thus far, the Crimson has stumbled. It opened the year with a 2–1 victory over Rensselaer but is now in the midst of a six-game losing streak. Last Saturday, the Crimson fell 3–0 to St. Lawrence, despite outshooting the Saints 28–21.
Yale should have the defensive capacity to contain the shot-happy Crimson. Rookie goaltender Gianna Meloni ’21 played both contests against Brown last weekend and now has two shutouts in her past three starts. She sports the fourth-best save percentage in the nation and an impressive 1.68 goals against average.
“Obviously, anytime we play Harvard there’s a lot of energy and nerves,” Souliotis said. “We are very evenly matched with them, so hopefully we can get a win at home. The team has continued to grow throughout the season, and that comes with confidence. Some girls were injured and we have gotten them back, lines are beginning to click and find success, defense has been stingy to start the year, and goaltending has been fantastic.”
The contest against Harvard is also the team’s annual White Out for Mandi game, held in honor of former Yale player Mandi Schwartz and as a fundraiser for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.
Following the rivalry game, Yale will have a chance to sweep its season series against Dartmouth. The Bulldog’s November victory over the Big Green by a four-goal margin was one of its most impressive performances of the season. Dartmouth, like Harvard, has also struggled in 2018. After winning its first game of the new calendar year, the Big Green tied Rensselaer and then went on a four game losing skid, leaving the team in second to last place in the ECAC standings.
In their previous game against Dartmouth, the Bulldogs put on a special teams clinic, going three-for-four on the power play and successfully killing off five penalties. Yale is the best team in the NCAA in the combined special teams rankings and will look to continue that success on both the player advantage and disadvantage against the Crimson and the Big Green.
However, Yale will also continue to look for offense at even strength. After scoring a season-high four goals at five-on-five in the first game against Brown, in their most recent contest against the Bears the Elis scored both key goals on the power play before putting one into an empty net in the closing seconds of the game. Seventeen of Yale’s 42 goals this season have come on the player advantage, and it will continue to look for more offense on even strength against two bottom-ten defenses this weekend.
“[This] weekend is an extremely important Ivy weekend for us,” forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 said. “Our goal is to get four points again to put ourselves into a good position in the conference going into the end of the season.”
Yale trails one point behind Harvard and three points behind Princeton in the ECAC standings.
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