Courtesy of Steve Musco

The Yale women’s ice hockey team will take on No. 9 St. Lawrence and No. 3 Clarkson this weekend before heading into Thanksgiving break as the Elis look to build off their recent win against Union last weekend.

The Bulldogs (1–5–0, 1–5–0 ECAC Hockey) play St. Lawrence (6–5–1, 2–0–0) on Friday night before taking on Clarkson (9–1–0, 2–0–0) Saturday afternoon. Both St. Lawrence and Clarkson are off to flying starts this season and will test the Elis. Facing two top-10 opponents gives the Yale team an opportunity to make a real statement for the season to come.

“Each weekend we have seen drastic improvements all over the ice,” forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 said. “In my opinion, our offense is just beginning to take off and our goal scoring will continue to improve as we get more used to our systems.”

After traveling for the last two games, the Bulldogs will be on their home turf, taking on the Saints on Friday night at Ingalls Rink. Yale is riding the momentum of their 6–1 domination of Union and are looking to pull off an impressive upset against a formidable St. Lawrence squad.

Last year, the Bulldogs fell to the Saints twice in close games. The first matchup of last year was the closest, a heartbreaking 3–2 defeat for Yale that was decided in the final period. St. Lawrence came into the game ranked No. 7 and Yale came in ready to knock them down the standings. The two sides traded goals back and forth, with forward Greta Skarzynski ’21 scoring her first collegiate tally in the second period. Although St. Lawrence ended up with the victory, the Bulldogs proved they could hang with the top of ECAC Hockey.

Yale’s attack showed up in force last Friday versus Union, and Coach Joakim Flygh will likely be hoping for similar amounts of production this week. Chancellor is off to an impressive final season with two goals thus far this year. First-year forward phenom Rebecca Vanstone ’22 is having a stellar debut season, with two goals and two assists in six games. The Elis will need production from both of these players up front to take down the Saints.

Forward Justine Reyes has led the lethal St. Lawrence attack in the opening games of this 2018–19 season. The senior has nine points through 12 games, scoring three times and assisting on six other goals. Defender Skylar Podvey has been having a stellar time on offense and trails Reyes by just a point for the most points on the team. The sophomore has three goals and five assists this year -— unprecedented attacking output from a defender.

Yale’s defense will need to be solid to ward off the proficient attack of the Saints, but the Bulldog backline has shown the ability to wall up in many games this year. Defender Tabea Botthof ’22 has been having a stalwart first season, halting shots and also contributing a goal against Union. Defender Julia Yetman ’19 has brought maturity and experience to the backline while also crucially aiding the attack. Yetman has two goals and two assists this year, a strong start to her senior season.

“I expect a lot from the team this season, most of all growth,” Kaitlyn Rippon ’22 said. “It’s a great group of supportive, hardworking girls.”

The Elis will then take on the Clarkson Golden Knights at Ingalls Rink on Saturday afternoon. Clarkson’s only loss of the young season came in an overtime upset versus St. Lawrence, so a strong showing from the Bulldogs on Friday night could indicate a big performance the next afternoon.

The Golden Knights beat Yale in all four matchups last year. The teams battled twice in the regular season, as the Elis fell by 4–0 and 2–1 deficits. Yale and Clarkson matched up yet again in the ECAC Hockey Playoffs as the Golden Knights beat the Bulldogs 10–1 and 4–1 in consecutive games to advance from the quarterfinals.

The only returning Eli athlete to score against Clarkson last year is Skarzynski, who notched Yale’s lone goal in the 2–1 defeat. To counter the Clarkson corps, Skarzynski and the rest of the Bulldog crew will have to play a lights-out game on the ice.

Clarkson is a well-rested squad, coming into this weekend fresh off of a bye week and sitting on a five-game win streak. The defending national champions and ECAC Hockey champions are led by 11th-year head coach Matt Desrosiers; under his guidance, the university has clinched a trio of national titles and a pair of conference championship belts.

The team is led by a dynamic trio of elite forwards: right winger Elizabeth Giguere, center Michaela Pejzlova and left winger Loren Gabel. Giguere leads all of Division I in points with 21, Gabel comes in at third with 19 and Pejzlova is tied for fifth with 18. Gabel’s backup, T.T. Cianfarano, has racked up 16 points to start the season, while Ella Shelton leads the nation in points scored by a defender with 12 to her credit.

The Bulldogs battle St. Lawrence on Friday at 6 p.m. and Clarkson on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Bentley Long | bentley.long@yale.edu

Eamonn Smith | eamonn.smith@yale.edu