Steve Musco

Looking to end a four-game losing streak, the Yale women’s ice hockey team will battle Vermont in its final nonconference series of the season on Friday and Saturday at Ingalls Rink.

Yale (2–10–0, 2–6–0 ECAC Hockey) is coming off a rough double-match weekend against No. 2 Minnesota, which saw the Elis lose by a combined margin of 10–2 in the pair of games. The Catamounts (4–9–4, 3–7–2 Hockey East) aim to improve on their recent series against conference foe Maine, in which Vermont split the series.

“Over the course of the season so far, [the team has] got more and more used to each other, which has definitely helped the team,” defender Tabea Botthof ’22 said. “Especially for me and the other six first years on the team since our first game for Yale.”

While these teams did not face each other last year, the squads posted similar seasons. The Elis compiled a respectable 10–17–4 overall record last year, going four games below .500 in ECAC play. Meanwhile, the Catamounts ended up 10–20–5, finishing with a 7–13–4 record in the Hockey East. Yale’s season came to an end in the quarterfinals of the ECAC Tournament versus perennial powerhouse Clarkson. Vermont fell in the quarterfinals of its conference tournament to Boston College in a two-game series.

So far, the Bulldog season has featured impressive ups and deflated downs. Two wins would be pivotal to revitalizing team morale. While wins have been hard to come by for the Elis, their lone pair of victories is undoubtedly respectable. Yale dominated Union on the road by a score of 6–1, a blowout victory that demonstrated the high quality play the Bulldogs are capable of showcasing. Captain and forward Emma Vlasic ’19 posted three points on the evening as she led her squad to a statement first win.

The second win of the Elis’ season may have been the most noteworthy in the history of the program. Yale looked every bit the part against defending national champion No. 3 Clarkson, which came into the match on an incendiary run, sporting a blistering 11–1–0 mark in addition to a six-game winning streak. On the other side, the Bulldogs were reeling from two consecutive losses coming into the matchup and seemed set for a tough day at the office.

Yet, Yale refused to lay down against the highest of caliber opponent. Clarkson was stunned right out of the gate, managing only one goal against a seemingly impenetrable Bulldog backline. Vlasic slotted two goals home while forward Rebecca Vanstone ’22 notched her fourth of the season in the game as well. Fellow forwards Lucy Burton ’21 and Charlotte Welch ’22 also found the back of the net in the five-goal conquest.

Struggling to string together a winning streak this year, the Catamounts prefaced the season with a 3–2 nail-biter exhibition win against McGill, a team who tied the Elis 4–4 in an overtime scrimmage in early October. Vermont then went on to tie with Quinnipiac twice in a doubleheader. The Catamounts also own victories over New Hampshire twice, Maine and took down Syracuse in the Windjammer Classic. The upcoming series with Yale marks the last of their nonconference play as they prepare to take on Hockey East foes over the next few weeks.

Yale relied heavily on its play between the pipes so far to keep many of the games within reach this season. Goalkeeper Tera Hofmann ’20 already owns an impressive number of saves, as the junior has already posted 281 stops through the nine games, averaging roughly 31 saves per contest. She also lays claim to the third best save percentage in the ECAC, a stellar .934 mark. Fellow netminders Gianna Meloni ’21 and Kyra O’Brien ’19 have also seen time between the posts, but Meloni’s solid play in net made her head coach Joakim Flygh’s top choice when Hofmann rests for a match.

“This is our second full year as goalie partners,” O’Brien said. “So we’ve had time to get to know each other, figure out routines and how to best support one another.”

Steady offensive production from multiple players in 2018 has been paramount to the Catamounts so far. Forward Ève-Audrey Picard leads Vermont with 11 points while forward Kristina Shanahan, who is second on the squad in assists, just notched a three-helper outing against Maine this past Saturday. In net, primary starting goalie Melissa Black has a save percentage of .914, while backup Blanka Škodová owns a blistering mark of .943, playing in just 21.2 percent of her team’s total minutes.

The puck drops for both games at 2 p.m. at Ingalls Rink on Friday and Saturday.

Bentley Long | bentley.long@yale.edu

Eamonn Smith | eamonn.smith@yale.edu