Steve Musco

The Yale’s women’s ice hockey team pulled off its biggest victory in program history in a dominant four-goal triumph against No. 3 Clarkson over the holiday break. However, the break also saw the Bulldogs narrowly lose to a pair of nationally ranked foes — No. 8 St. Lawrence and No. 9 Providence — before falling to Connecticut.

“I think the win against Clarkson really showed our team what we are capable of when we all show up and give 100 percent in our game,” forward Lucy Burton ’21 said. “I believe that a huge reason we won that game was because of our constant tenacity to win battles for the puck and also because we moved the puck well and played together as a team instead of having individual play.”

In the Elis’ match against St. Lawrence on the Friday before Thanksgiving break, Yale’s (2–8–0, 2–6–0 ECAC Hockey) defense was challenged from the start, as the Saints (9–6–1, 4–0–0) launched 15 shots in the first period last Friday. A penalty on Bulldog defender Julia Yetman ’19 in the 14th minute led to a power play for St. Lawrence, and Kalie Grant capitalized two minutes later with a goal. Forward Rebecca Vanstone ’22 countered with an equalizer for the Elis in the 19th minute to tie it at one goal apiece.

An interference penalty on defender Tabea Botthof ’22 early in the second period led to another power play for the Saints, and Maggie McLaughlin subsequently ripped a shot to put St. Lawrence up 2–1. Justine Reyes snagged another score for the away team on an open net just before time expired to end the game 3–1 in favor of St. Lawrence.

The next day, the Bulldogs demolished No. 3 Clarkson (12–2–0, 3–1–0) in a 5–1 biscuit beatdown, dealing the defending national champions just their second loss of the season. Captain and forward Emma Vlasic ’19 led the way, scoring two of the team’s goals of the day. Vanstone, Burton and forward Charlotte Welch ’22 all contributed at least one goal in the thrashing. Overall, 11 Elis notched a point in the match.

The offensive onslaught began 10 minutes into the first period, as Vlasic sniped a score against goalie Marie-Pier Coulombe. Eight minutes later, Burton fired in her first collegiate goal before Welch rifled in a shot of her own a minute later to give Yale a 3–0 lead. The Golden Knights subsequently replaced Coulombe with Kia Castonguay in net.

Vanstone nabbed her second goal of the weekend in the 14th minute of the second period while Vlasic scored again early into the third period. The Golden Knights were finally able to get on the board with Kristy Pidgeon’s power play goal in the eighth minute of the final frame, but it was far too late to mount a successful Clarkson comeback. This historic upset marked the highest ranked opponent the Yale women’s ice hockey team has ever defeated. The Golden Knights have captured the NCAA National Championship three times since 2014.

Yale then faced off against No. 9 Providence (12–2–0, 7–1 Hockey East) in the semifinal of the Nutmeg Classic on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a chance for the Elis to take home some hardware early on in the season. The two teams came out firing, aware of the importance of an early tournament win.

Neither team found the net in the first period, but the action picked up in the second. Forward Christina Putigna converted one of her six shots to put the Friars on top midway through the middle stanza, firing a shot past goalkeeper Tera Hofmann ’20. This tally gave the Friars pivotal momentum, but the Bulldogs refused to back down. At the end of the second period, Providence led Yale 24–6 in shots but enjoyed just a 1–0 lead.

The Bulldogs refused to quit in the third period and drew on the fire that helped them achieve their historic upset of Clarkson a week earlier. The squad put a beautiful goal together eight minutes in. Set up perfectly by her attacking partner, Greta Skarzynski ’21, Welch knotted the game up by slapping a shot past the Providence goalie.

The game did not stay deadlocked for long, though, as the Friars stormed back to regain the lead. With under five minutes to play, forward Sarah Hjalmarsson put Providence in front for good after a deft give-and-go with fellow forward Cassidy Macpherson, slotting the puck into the back of the net. The Friars took home the 2–1 victory and moved onto the Nutmeg Classic Championship game, where they defeated Quinnipiac.

“I think the win against Clarkson gave our team some much needed confidence and momentum moving forward,” forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 said. “Providence and St. Lawrence are both very good teams and being able to compete with them now only shows how much potential our team has.”

Yale matched up against UConn (7–8–1, 3–6–1) in a consolation game, hoping to end its Nutmeg Classic run on a high note. The game proved frustrating for the Elis, who dominated play and had numerous chances to score throughout the match. The first and second periods saw both sides play well defensively, but Yale could not break the ice in a scoreless deadlock.

Hofmann was a wall in net once again in this fixture, giving Providence little hope of taking the lead. The junior followed up her stellar 31-save performance against Providence with 21 stops against the Huskies. Yale, led in both shots and faceoffs won by the time the third period commenced, looked to be in prime position to snatch a win.

The final period of play went quite the opposite for the Bulldogs as they conceded a goal with six minutes to play. Forward Viki Harkness broke the tie in favor of Connecticut following a three-on-two break for the Huskies. The freshman slapped a shot past Hofmann and sent the Bulldogs into a mad scramble to equalize. Yale seemed poised to find the tying goal when Vlasic was alone on a breakaway chance. The captain fired a shot that cleared the goalkeeper, only to rattle against the post and kick back out for a rebound chance that the Elis were unable to capitalize on. The Huskies clung to the narrow lead to emerge as 1–0 victors over the Bulldogs.

“We feel good about the efficiency of our systems and our strategy for the games going forward because of the success we saw against an opponent as good as Clarkson,” Welch said. “Moving forward, I think we are looking to play with more urgency right from the start.”

The Bulldogs take on No. 2 Minnesota at Ingalls Rink this Friday and Saturday in a two-game nonconference series.

Bentley Long | bentley.long@yale.edu

Eamonn Smith | eamonn.smith@yale.edu