The No. 7 Yale women’s hockey team (22–6–1, 16–5–1 ECAC) is set to compete against St. Lawrence University (14–13–7, 10–8–4) in the first round of ECAC playoffs this weekend. The best-of-three series will take place at Ingalls Rink. 

The Bulldogs closed out the regular season with a 4–1 loss against No. 9 Quinnipiac along with a 3–0 win against Princeton in order to claim second place in the ECAC. Yale is seeded second in the ECAC playoffs behind Harvard, who won the regular season crown. St. Lawrence sits five spots below at the seventh seed. 

“We are focused on playing our game and believe that doing so will lead to success against any opponent we have to face in the playoffs,” Emma Seitz ’23, ECAC Defense of the Year finalist, said. “Playoff hockey is another opportunity for me and the team to keep getting better.”

The Elis have found previous success against the Saints this season. 

The two teams last met on Feb. 12 at The Whale, where Yale beat St. Lawrence 3–1 during Senior Weekend. Earlier in the season, on Nov. 19, the Bulldogs played the Saints on the road resulting in a 4–4 tie after overtime. 

“It definitely gives us a little bit of confidence knowing that we played well and beat a good SLU team two weekends ago,” Tess Dettling ’22 said. “SLU is a good team that seems to have peaked at the right time. If we come ready to play and play our game, I think we’ll have similar success as last game.” 

The last time the Elis faced the Saints in the playoffs was during the 2016-17 season, where St. Lawrence won in two games.

Yale has only made it past the first round of playoffs once. In the 2004-05 season, the team beat Princeton in a two-game sweep at home to advance to the semi-finals. Harvard would later end the Bulldogs’ season in the semifinal round. 

Veteran members of the Yale team remember the devastating loss to Harvard in the first round of the ECAC Playoffs in the 2019-20 season just before the pandemic hit. Charlotte Welch ’23 scored a hat trick in the second game of the series to bring the match into overtime. It was Dettling who tallied the game-winning goal to tie the series at one. However, the Bulldogs were unable to make it past the Crimson in the series tiebreaker game.

“Our experience from the 2019-20 playoffs is a big motivating factor behind playoffs this year and we are definitely looking to build off of that series against Harvard because we did play well, we just didn’t get the result we wanted,” Dettling said. 

The NCAA expanded the women’s hockey championship from eight to 11 teams this year. With only five conferences, there are several at-large bids in play. The Bulldogs, who won seven of their last eight games, hope to capitalize on this opportunity.

Yale ranks fourth in the USCHO PairWise Rankings, used to emulate the NCAA Selection Committee’s process to select teams for the NCAA National Collegiate Women’s hockey tournament, compared to St. Lawrence’s 13th place. 

Yale’s record-breaking team this season looks to break yet another record by being the first team in program history to make it to the NCAA tournament. 

“Our team is looking really strong this year and I have great confidence that we can make our mark in the playoffs,” goalie Gianna Meloni ’22 wrote to the News earlier in the season. 

Meloni is a semifinalist for national goalie of the year honors with a 1.44 goals against average and a .938 save percentage. Meanwhile, rookie goalie Dukaric finished the regular season ranked second in Division I with a 1.15 goals against average. Her .936 save percentage earned her twelfth place. 

Meloni and Dukaric have been splitting time this season, each playing a game last weekend. It is unclear who will be in net for the upcoming playoff series.

The puck drops at Ingalls Rink on Friday, Feb. 25 at 6:00 p.m. Friday night’s game has a White Out theme and the first 400 fans will receive free t-shirts from Yale Athletics. 

The two teams will meet again on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 3:00 p.m. A fan raffle will occur during the Saturday game. Raffle prizes include: Garden Catering Gifts Cards, two free Avelo Airlines flight vouchers, a meet & greet with Handsome Dan, Yale gear and more courtesy of Yale Athletics

If a third game is needed, the contest will occur on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 3:00 p.m. 

All games in the series will be streamed on ESPN+.

Rosa Braceras covers Women’s Ice Hockey, Softball, and other sports news. She is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in History.