Coming off its second-place result at the Nutmeg Classic, the Yale women’s ice hockey team is now preparing to take on No. 20 Harvard and Dartmouth in two home games this weekend.
The Bulldogs (6–5–0, 3–3–0 ECAC) split their games in Hamden last weekend, beating No. 21 UConn 6–2 on the first day of the tournament, but losing 3–1 to No. 23 Quinnipiac in the final. This Friday and Saturday, Yale invites Harvard (5–4–0, 5–0–0) and Dartmouth (3–6–1, 1–3–1) to Ingalls Rink for rematches of their November bouts. On Nov. 1, the Bulldogs narrowly defeated the Big Green 1–0. The next day, they fell 5–2 to the Crimson in Boston.
“I thought we showed our improvement over the last months in the two games this past weekend,” forward Charlotte Welch ’22 said. “We established much better structure overall, especially on our forecheck which proved quite effective.”
The games this past weekend showed the Bulldogs’ commitment to fighting for every win. After falling behind by two goals in the first five minutes of the UConn contest, defender Saroya Tinker ’20 kicked off a scoring spree, faking out the Husky goalie to score her sixth career goal. In the second frame, forward Greta Skarzynski ’21 grabbed her first goal of the season. In this same period, Welch scored twice more for the Bulldogs, building their lead to 4–2. In the final 20 minutes, Skarzynski and forward Claire Dalton ’22 put two more points on the board to close out the game at 6–2.
Despite this strong start to the weekend, the Bulldogs faltered against Quinnipiac. Forward Grace Lee ’23 snapped a shot straight into the Bobcats’ net in the first period, but Yale fell behind in the second period, letting in two QU goals. The Bobcats solidified their win with an empty-net goal in the third period to finish out the game 3–1 and win the Nutmeg Classic title.
“Teams are going to want to watch out for us coming up on the second half of the season, particularly Harvard and Dartmouth on Friday and Saturday,” goaltender Gianna Meloni ’21 said. “We’re fired up and hungry for every win we can get.”
The Crimson defeated Yale last time in decisive fashion, winning 5–2. That win was part of a hot start, in which Harvard won its first five games. But the Crimson has stumbled since then, coming into New Haven having lost its past four games. Harvard scored just four goals in that stretch and let in 18.
The Bulldogs should not take this for granted, however, as Harvard’s losses came against the nation’s best: No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 2 Minnesota, No. 9 Boston University and No. 18 New Hampshire. Over the last 16 years, the two rival teams have faced off 36 times, with Yale winning only six of those contests.
The Big Green fell to Yale last month 1–0 in a tight tilt, but is still a force to be reckoned with. Since last playing the Elis, Dartmouth has won three games, lost three games and tied one game. Most recently, they hosted No. 15 Maine in Hanover for two matches. After a 6–1 loss to the Black Bears on Friday night, the Big Green recovered for a 5–2 win against the same team the next day. Dartmouth hopes to pull this same reverse on Yale and take the win this time around.
Rejoining the Bulldogs after recovering from injury is forward Rebecca Vanstone ’22. The Ontario native led the team in scoring last year and was the top contributor before getting injured earlier in November.
“We have confidence that we can win both games — provided we work together as a team and match their energy level,” head coach Mark Bolding said. “We’ve had some injuries and hopefully will have most of our lineup back for this weekend. Should be fun and a great weekend of hockey before exams begin for our players.”
Yale takes on Harvard on Friday at 6 p.m. followed by Dartmouth on Saturday at 3 p.m.
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