WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Bulldogs stumble against Saints in game one of ECAC playoffs
Yale came up short against St. Lawrence in their first home playoff series since 2005, falling 4–2.
For the first time in 17 years, the Yale women’s hockey team hosted a playoff game. In Friday’s matchup with St. Lawrence University, Yale failed to take the lead once over the course of the 60-minute game, falling 4–2.
The Bulldogs (22–6–1, 16–5–1 ECAC), ranked seventh in the country and second in the ECAC, looked to extend their unbeaten streak against the seventh-seeded Saints (14–13–7, 10–8–4). In the regular season, the Bulldogs tied the Saints on the road and came away victorious on Senior Day, winning 3–1.
“SLU is a good team that seems to have peaked at the right time,” Tess Dettling ’23 said ahead of the matchup. “If we come ready to play and play our game, I think we’ll have similar success as last game.”
Despite going head-to-head with the Saints before, playoff nerves got to the Elis early. A bench minor for two many players was called on the Bulldogs early in the first period and taken by Maya Kerfoot ’22. The penalty was successfully killed off, along with an interference call on Anna Bargman ’25, with one shot made on goaltender Pia Dukaric ’25 in each penalty.
Elis played both defensively and dependably in the first period. Instead of opting for highlight reel-style plays, they worked as a team to keep the puck in the offensive zone. With a player crashing the net at all times, Yale was situated for tip-ins and rebounds instead of relying on a bar-down shot to break in the scoring.
It was St. Lawrence who lit the lamp first. Three minutes into the second period forwards Brittney Gout and Jessica Poirier broke out of their zone to create a two-on-two opportunity against Emma Seitz ’23 and Olivia Muhn ’25. Gout found the net off a redirect in the low slot.
Offensive chances for the Bulldogs were few and far between as the visitors applied man-on pressure to the puck carrier. When Yale managed to take possession, sloppy passes caused quick turnovers.
“[We] weren’t really connected on our tape-to-tape passes,” head coach Mark Bolding said. “We lost too many battles.”
In the final minutes of the second frame, Yale finally had a sizeable stint in the St. Lawrence zone. After a shot point from Seitz was unsuccessful, Elle Hartje ’24 fed the puck to Bargman off her skate. A backhanded rebound from Bargman knotted the score at one going into the second intermission.
St. Lawrence entered the third period on the powerplay as Hartje was charged for an interference minor as time was running out in the second. The Saints took full advantage of having an extra player, getting one past Dukaric after a flurry of shots in front of the net. The call was confirmed after being reviewed for goalie interference.
The Saints’ lead wouldn’t last long. 75 seconds later, Blueliner Tabea Botthoff ’23 notched her first goal of the season off a shot from the point.
St. Lawrence would reclaim their lead in the middle of the third period as it caught Yale off guard in a possession change. The two-on-one rush was fruitful for Rachel Bjorgan as she gave the Saints a 3–2 lead. A dangle through captain Greta Skarzynski ’22 and a shot between Dukaric’s legs would give Gout her second goal of the night and St. Lawrence their first two-goal lead.
Bolding pulled Dukaric with 3:34 remaining to try to salvage the game. A Saints checking penalty would bring the on-ice play to six-on-four with about one minute remaining in regulation. Even a two-man advantage wouldn’t be enough for the Bulldogs to score.
Despite Friday’s loss, Yale’s playoff run isn’t over yet. The best-of-three series will continue Saturday and Sunday if needed.
“I think we just need to be more physical,” Rebecca Foggia ’22 said. “We were a little bit soft today and I think we’re definitely going to bring that tomorrow and Sunday.”
The Bulldogs will look to settle the score Saturday for game two of the series. The puck drops Feb. 26 at 3:00 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.