The Yale women’s hockey team jumped two spots in conference standings after a second-consecutive four-point weekend of rematches.
The Elis (9–10–4, 7–7–2 ECAC) entered the weekend on a roll after a pair of victories against Brown last weekend. Friday’s rematch against Harvard (9–11–1, 7–8–1), the annual White Out for Mandi, saw the Bulldogs edge out their rivals 3–2. The next day, Yale hosted Dartmouth (5–15–1, 3–12–1), sweeping the season series with a 6–0 shutout victory.
“We have started to find our game offensively and [goaltender Gianna Meloni ’21] has been stellar in net, allowing us to come away with huge wins,” defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “She has worked incredibly hard every single practice and her work is paying off not only for her but also for our team. Stepping into the college game can be hard at first, so once she settled in after a few weeks, she really found her footing and confidence and has been integral to our team’s success.”
More than a thousand fans, decked out in white, packed the rink on Friday to support the team’s charity game to raise money and awareness for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, an organization created in honor of former player Mandi Schwartz ’10 who died from leukemia in 2011.
When the Bulldogs played the Crimson earlier this season, Harvard got off to a 2–0 lead before the Elis mounted a comeback attempt late in the second period. A second Yale goal with just over a minute left in regulation pushed the teams into a scoreless overtime, and the rivals each walked away with one conference point.
In front of the season-record crowd on Friday, although Yale and Harvard fired off 11 and eight shots in the first frame respectively, neither team could find the back of the net until the second period.
When it came to scoring, this time Yale struck first. The Bulldogs’ conference-best power-play squad handed them the 1–0 lead, with the team’s leading scorer, forward Greta Skarzynski ’21, assisted by forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 and defender Julia Yetman ’19, capitalizing on the Elis’ player advantage eight minutes into the second period to notch the game’s first tally.
Skarzynski was not the match’s lone rookie scorer — after the Crimson responded with a power play goal of its own just three minutes after Skarzynski’s, forward Tess Dettling ’21, assisted by forward Rebecca Foggia ’21 and Souliotis, collected a puck in the slot and fired it home to bring the scoreboard to 2–1 and score her first career goal.
Fresh off the momentum fromDettling goal, forward Emma Vlasic ’19 widened the lead to two just 22 seconds later with an assist from defender Lauren Moriyama ’21 to end the second frame with Yale up 3–1.
The Crimson offense returned with a vengeance in the final period, firing off 11 shots at the rookie Meloni, who held off all but one to preserve the 3–2 win and extend her 2018 record to 4–0–0.
“The White Out for Mandi game is always an amazing and humbling game to play in,” Chancellor said. “The event, combined with the crowd and the fact that we were playing Harvard, definitely got the team fired up. We all wanted to come out and play with the passion that Mandi did.”
The Bulldogs followed up their win against the Crimson with their most impressive game of the year, crushing the Big Green 6–0. Meloni — whose 94.5 save percentage is third-best in the nation — recorded her third shutout in six games with a perfect 28-save game. Her counterparts in green, Christie Honor and backup Shannon Ropp, who came into the game in relief in the third period, also made a combined 28 saves, but Yale’s offense was unstoppable, particularly in the second frame.
Fittingly, Skarzynski once again jumpstarted Yale’s offense, scoring the opening goal — and eventual game winner — midway through the first period. The goal was her 13th of the season, and her 22nd point in 23 games, which puts her at 10th in the NCAA in points per game for first-year players.
The score remained close until the second period, when Yale exploded for four goals. Forward Laura Anderson ’20 and Vlasic scored goals just 35 seconds apart to widen Yale’s lead to 3–0. Vlasic now has at least one point in every Yale win in the new calendar year and is second behind Skarzynski with nine goals this season.
With under three minutes to play in the second frame, forward Courtney Pensavalle ’18 put yet another puck into Dartmouth’s net. The defense, as well as helping to blank the Big Green in the Elis’ own zone, was also the driving force behind this offensive boom: Defenders Yetman and Souliotis picked up assists on all three of these goals in the second period.
Having scored four goals at even strength, which tied a season high in five-on-five offense, the Bulldogs put an exclamation point on a dynamic period with a power play goal, which came just 75 seconds before the intermission.
The Elis returned to earth in the final frame and were unable to score on Ropp as she replaced her fellow netminder for the third period. However, Souliotis got a goal of her own after her three assists, getting the puck to Dartmouth’s empty net in the closing minute of the game to set the final score at 6–0, Yale’s biggest margin of victory of the season.
Yale’s strong play in the last two weeks has seen it climb in the ECAC rankings, and the team is now in sixth place, just two points behind Quinnipiac. The Bulldogs finish January with an outstanding 6–1–0 record, and are finding their stride at just the right time with six games left in the regular season.
Masha Galay | email@example.com
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