The Yale women’s hockey team, facing its second pair of nationally ranked teams in two weeks, saw its winless February extended in two shutout losses. The Elis went scoreless against both No. 4 Colgate and No. 6 Cornell, and have now slipped to eighth in the ECAC standings.
Despite opening 2018 with six wins and only one loss, the Bulldogs (9–14–4, 7–11–2 ECAC) have since struggled to find their footing against ranked opponents as they hit a tough part of their schedule. The Elis first fell to then-No. 9 St. Lawrence and then-No. 2 Clarkson to begin the month and continued their losing streak this weekend. Yale first suffered a 4–0 defeat against Cornell (17–7–3, 13–5–2), a victory that earned the Big Red the Ivy League title two years in a row. The Elis were then blanked by Colgate (27–4–1, 17–3–0) in a 2–0 loss the next day.
“We played some really tough opponents this past weekend, which was a good test for us to see how we stack up against top-level teams,” forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 said. “Right now we’re focused on putting those games behind us and getting prepared for the last home games this weekend for our seniors.”
Yale put in one of its worst performances of the season against the Big Red, which dominated the entire game. The Bulldogs are often outshot by their opponents, but the mismatch in this contest was particularly glaring, with the Elis putting a measly 10 shots on goal throughout the entire game compared to Cornell’s 50 pucks on net.
The first period saw the Big Red score two goals, with the first coming just over five minutes into the game from rookie forward Madlynne Mills, who has averaged a point per game this season. Cornell got its second goal of the period with just under one and a half minutes remaining before the intermission and the Elis, as they had been last weekend against St. Lawrence and Clarkson, found themselves behind early and playing catch-up.
Yet, unlike the matches against the Saints and the Golden Knights, the Bulldogs could not produce any comeback effort. Down by two goals, Yale allowed 42 more shots on goal and mustered just six of its own in 40 minutes of play.
The Bulldogs also took five penalties, including a five-minute major and game misconduct by defender Grace Wickens ’18, who was ejected for contact to the head in the third period. This major came with under five minutes to play in the game, and thus gave the Big Red a player advantage for the remainder of the match. Defender Julia Yetman ’19 picked up yet another penalty during this late stretch, giving Cornell a five-on-three advantage that it immediately capitalized on. Kristin O’Neill, who ranks ninth in the nation in goals-per-game, netted her 17th goal of the season to put an exclamation point on Cornell’s victory.
Rookie netminder Gianna Meloni ’21, who entered the game ranking third in the NCAA in save percentage and having just earned ECAC Goalie of the Month honors, could not bail out the Elis. She made just seven saves on 10 shots, allowing three goals before being replaced by Tera Hofmann ’20. Hofmann produced the lone stellar performance of the night for the Bulldogs, making 39 saves on 40 shots and allowing just one goal, which came on the Big Red’s five-on-three power play. Her counterpart between the pipes for Cornell, goaltender Marlene Boissonnault, recorded her fifth — and likely easiest — shutout of the season by making 10 saves, and now ranks fifth in the NCAA in shutout wins
After the frustrating loss against Cornell, Yale travelled even further upstate in New York to face the Raiders but was unable to halt its losing and scoreless skid. The Bulldogs were again offensively stunted and heavily outshot, 46–14. While Hofmann, who started, made 44 saves and allowed just two goals against a top-10 scoring team was Yale’s lone bright spot once again, it was not enough to overcome Colgate.
The Elis’ first period against the Raiders seemed more promising than the previous day’s, as Yale took the first shot, and both teams were scoreless for the frame. Although the Bulldogs made 12 attempts in the first period compared to the Raiders’ 11. The Elis took their first of five penalties, but managed to temporarily hold the Raiders at bay. But, despite two player advantages of its own, Yale, which owns the nation’s fifth-best power-play squad, could not convert on either.
In the second period, the Bulldogs, who were once the league’s most-penalized team, fell victim to old habits again. They gave Colgate a power-play opportunity less than two minutes into the period, and the Raiders capitalized to lead 1–0. Five minutes later, Colgate scored again to bring the score to 2–0, where it would remain for the rest of the game. The two-goal victory was less productive than Colgate’s 3.62 goals-per-game average, but more than enough against the struggling Elis. For the rest of the match, the Bulldogs managed to hold on, but like the day before, could not come back.
Colgate, whose defense ranks fifth in the nation, entered the game having recorded back-to-back shutouts against Harvard and Brown, first by netminder Liz Auby and then by Julia Vandyk, who was manning the crease against Yale. She recorded her second shutout of the weekend after having not being tested much by Yale’s tepid offensive effort. Yale has now scored just three goals in its last four games while allowing 16, and is averaging just two goals per game, well below the national average.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves this weekend and what it’s going to take to beat the better teams,” forward Emma Vlasic ’19 said. “We competed hard but we have to raise our game another notch going forward if we want to close out our season the right way.”
The Elis are at home to close out the regular season, facing Princeton and Quinnipiac in a pair of crucial games next Friday and Saturday, respectively. With Rensselaer just one point behind Yale in the ECAC conference standings, the Bulldogs will have to collect some points in the standings next weekend if they hope to hang on to the last playoff spot and extend their season beyond those two games.
Masha Galay | firstname.lastname@example.org
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