Courtesy of Steve Musco

Coming off of a disappointing weekend that saw consecutive 5–1 losses, Yale women’s ice hockey looks to challenge Rensselaer and Union at home in a pair of winnable matches for the Elis.

Yale (5–14–0, 4–8–0 ECAC Hockey) now turns to the RPI Engineers (9–10–4, 6–5–0) on Friday evening, in an attempt to avenge an early-season 2–1 loss. The next afternoon, the Elis will encounter the Union Dutchwomen (2–19–2, 0–10–1), a rematch of a game that saw the Bulldogs obliterate their opponents by a 6–1 scoreline in November.

“This weekend’s results were obviously not what we were looking for, but we did use the losses as an opportunity to have a conversation about what we can do to make the rest of the season as successful as possible,” defender Emma Seitz ’22 said. “Our freshmen have been getting more and more comfortable with the pace of the college game. So far in the second half of the season, the forward line of Charlotte Welch ’22, Rebecca Vanstone ’22 and Claire Dalton ’22 have been playing very well and starting to spark our offense in a way.”

Rensselaer poses a serious threat to the Bulldogs. Although the Engineers only defeated Yale by a one-goal margin when the squads last squared off in mid-November, RPI is on a hot streak headed into the weekend, with the team posting five wins in its last seven matches. The Engineers are led by their dependable junior forward Blake Orosz, who ranks 12th in points scored in the conference and second in game-winning goals scored. Yale, however, has won half of its last six matches, and the team has scored at least three times in four of those six contests.

A fearsome foursome of first year Elis anchor Yale. Forwards Vanstone, Welch and Dalton, alongside defender Seitz, comprise arguably the best core of young players in the conference. Vanstone, former ECAC Rookie of the Week, leads the entire team with 17 points, while Welch’s playmaking abilities have been a shining spot for the Elis in an up-and-down year. She has tallied a team-leading 11 assists, tying for 15th place in ECAC Hockey. Dalton is just one of three players on the squad with a positive +/- rating this season, while Seitz has played a crucial role in anchoring the backline.

Yale squares off with Union on Saturday, a team that it bested with ease earlier in the season. When these two squads battled in November, the Bulldogs put up six goals en route to a 6–1 thrashing of the Dutchwomen. Forward and captain Emma Vlasic ’19 led the way for the Elis, putting up a crucial three-point performance. She scored twice and also recorded an assist. Two defenders, Tabea Botthof ’22 and Julia Yetman ’19, also chipped in on the scoreboard, while keeping a tight ship on defense.

“We are expecting to push hard down this final stretch and keep improving as a group, both defensively and offensively,” Hofmann said. “The goal at this point is to make the playoffs, and I think we have a good shot at it if the whole group buys into what we are trying to do.”

This game provides an opportunity for the Eli offense to have another breakout performance. The Bulldogs have scored 43 goals through 19 games, an average of about 2 goals per contest. Their goals per game average is fifth in the conference. The Elis will also look to better their power play offense in the Union game. They have seven power play goals this season but are last in the conference in total power play opportunities. At the same time, the Bulldogs need to limit their fouling to prevent gifting their opponents power play opportunities of their own. Yale has accrued 152 penalty minutes this season, the fourth most in the conference.

Union has struggled of late, entering this game winless in their last 15 games. The team is also looking for its first conference win of the season. The Dutchwomen have managed only 26 goals in 23 games. With four goals, defender Arianna Kosakowski leads the way for the Dutchwomen on offense. Forwards Katelynn Russ and Haley Shugart also have four goals apiece. Forward Rachel De Perio leads the team with five assists. Kosakowski has four assists — the second most on the team.

Yale’s goalkeeping has varied in quality this season, especially in recent games. Two of the three Yale netminders, Gianna Meloni ’21 and Kyra O’Brien ’19, spent time in goal during the St. Lawrence match. Goalkeeper Tera Hofmann ’20 has also featured prominently throughout this season. Hofmann sports a win percentage of .500, which ranks her at sixth in the conference. She will look to eclipse 400 saves in the Union game, as she currently has 398 on the season.

Two netminds have split Union’s goalkeeping duties this year. Sophomore Amelia Murray has played in 13 games for the Dutchwomen, making 357 saves with a save percentage of .905. First-year Coco Francis has seen time in 11 games, stopping 256 shots. She sports a save percentage of .877 and a goals against average of 3.88. Sophomore Kate Spooner has appeared in three games as well. It is unclear who the Bulldogs will face in net on Saturday.

Several of Yale’s seniors have brought experience and success to the team this season. On the offensive side of the ice, Vlasic and fellow forward Jordan Chancellor ’19 have 19 points between them. Vlasic has seven goals on the year, and Chancellor has set up five goals for her teammates. On the defensive end, Yetman keeps a relatively young backline in check and often ventures up the ice to aid the attack. The Bulldogs will draw heavily on their seniors in this crucial matchup as they seek to gain momentum for the rest of the season.

Yale plays against Rensselaer Friday at 6 p.m. in Ingalls Rink, followed by a 3 p.m. home game on Saturday against Union.

Bentley Long |

Eamonn Smith | .