Having already been eliminated from ECAC playoff contention, the Yale women’s ice hockey team caps off its season by playing host to Ivy foes Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.
The Bulldogs (7–18–2, 6–12–2 ECAC Hockey) first duel with Dartmouth (5–20–2, 4–15–1) on Friday night in a rematch of this month’s earlier 2–0 Eli victory. The Bulldogs then battle archnemesis Harvard (11–13–3, 9–9–2) on Saturday afternoon, three weeks after falling to the Crimson in a 5–2 defeat.
“Our season didn’t turn out how we wanted it to,” defender Saroya Tinker ’20 said. “We didn’t get the points we needed to and we’ve got to come to terms with that and move forward and improve our program from here. We hold ourselves to a high standard and not making the playoff cut is simply unacceptable.”
The Big Green comes to Ingalls to challenge the Elis after being embarrassed on its own ice in Hanover. The Bulldog victory saw strong play across the board as defender Emma Seitz ’22 took advantage of a Yale offensive power play push midway through the first period and slung a shot past Dartmouth’s goalkeeper Christine Honor.
The Elis went on to establish a consistent attack on the Big Green by launching 16 shots on goal in the second period. One of those shots was a bullet by forward Kaitlyn Rippon ’22, which found its way into the cage for her first collegiate goal. The Bulldogs were able to maintain their 2–0 lead over Dartmouth until the final buzzer sounded.
This weekend, however, is different. While both teams have been eliminated from ECAC postseason play, the Elis and the Big Green both have their backs against the wall. Yale and Dartmouth hope to salvage their disappointing seasons with last-minute heroics. This will be just the second time in the last six years that Yale failed to make the conference postseason tournament, while it will be the fourth consecutive time Dartmouth failed to qualify.
Yale’s scoring rests primarily on its youth, as three of the team’s four leading scorers are first-year forwards. The rookie trio of Rebecca Vanstone ’22, Claire Dalton ’22 and Charlotte Welch ’22 has been an offensive boon in an increasingly fast-paced league. All three rank among the top 35 scorers in the ECAC.
The spotlight this weekend, however, will be on the four Yale seniors on the squad: forwards Jordan Chancellor ’19, captain Emma Vlasic ’19, defender Julia Yetman ’19 and goalkeeper Kyra O’Brien ’19. All four Bulldogs saw time on the ice in each of their four seasons, and Vlasic is the other player who ranks in the top four Yale scorers alongside the three first years. Vlasic is tied with Dalton and Welch at 17 points apiece on the season.
“This weekend we say goodbye to a class that have made a big difference on the ice, and we are grateful for what they have done for our program and we wish them nothing but the best,” Tinker said.
The Bulldogs’ season finale comes against archrival Harvard, who bested the Elis in the earlier matchup this season. The early February matchup saw Harvard ride a hot start en route to a dominant 5–2 victory over Yale. The Crimson held the home ice and used that advantage to jump out to a formidable five-goal lead.
Yale did not back down from the opposition’s offensive onslaught, as forward Becca Foggia ’21 sniped a wrister to cut the lead to four in the third period. Yale’s youth came to play as well, as defender Tabea Botthof ’22 netted her third goal of the season on a late power play opportunity.
The seniors will not be willing to go down without a fight against Harvard. All season long, the squad’s four veterans have played crucial roles on the ice as scorers and defenders as well as off the ice as mentors. Vlasic and Chancellor have contributed a combined 26 points to the attack.
Yetman has been a Swiss Army knife of sorts for the Elis on both ends of the ice this year. She has eight points off of four goals and four assists to accompany her elite blue-line play. O’Brien has appeared in four games this season and sports an impressive .923 save percentage. Yale will undoubtedly miss these seniors’ contributions next year.
“There are obviously a lot of mixed emotions going into this weekend,” said Chancellor. “Ultimately I am thankful to Yale hockey for giving me some of the greatest friends and memories over the last four years and I’m excited to get on the ice with my best friends for one last weekend.”
Harvard has also been anchored by a nucleus of young talent on offense. Forward Kristin Della Rovere has been having a phenomenal rookie campaign, posting 22 points to lead her team. The senior class for the Crimson has also shown up this season. Forward Lexie Laing has seven goals and 14 assists, not to be outdone by her young linemate — junior forward Kat Hughes leads the team in shots with 107 this year.
Yale has seen improved performances from Welch and Foggia in recent contests — two members of the Bulldog attack that have been quietly very productive. Welch has had a dominant first year on the ice for the Elis, setting up 12 goals for her teammates and scoring five herself. Foggia has been lethal with the puck on her stick in front of goal, ripping eight tallies in her sophomore season. Last weekend against Colgate, Welch and Foggia scored all of Yale’s goals. Welch found the back of the net twice and Foggia snagged a score as well.
The puck drops at the Whale at 6 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.
Bentley Long | firstname.lastname@example.org
Eamonn Smith | email@example.com