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The No. 7 Yale women’s hockey team (25–8–1, 16–5–1 ECAC) lost in an overtime thriller, 2–1, in the ECAC Championship to the No. 5 Colgate Raiders (30–7–1, 16–5–1 ECAC) on Saturday. 

In the program’s first ever ECAC Championship game, the Bulldogs came out flying as soon as the puck was dropped. The Bulldogs jumped all over the Raiders from the start, and hemmed them into their defensive zone for much of the period. 

“I think we had a great run, obviously. We had some close games, pulled it out almost here,” Charlotte Welch ’23 said. “Some good playoff experience for all of us at Yale, which we haven’t really had much.”

The Bulldogs looked in complete control, but were unable to score until just before the halfway mark of the first period. On a tremendous individual effort, Yale forward Claire Dalton ’23 carried the puck into the Colgate zone with speed as teammate Tess Dettling ’22 drove the net. With Dettling forcing the Colgate defenders to drop deeper to take the pass away, Dalton crossed from right to left of the Colgate net before potting a nifty backhand into the top left corner. 

For the majority of the first period, Yale goalie Gianna Meloni ’22 was a spectator, as Colgate could only muster four shots on goal. However, Meloni came up huge in the final seconds of the period with a strong save on a breakaway. 

The second period was a much tighter affair, with Yale unable to sustain the offensive pressure that it had in the first. Colgate enjoyed an 11–7 advantage in shots on goal in the period, but Meloni was up to the challenge for every single of them.

The Bulldogs did a good job of keeping the Raiders contained on the outside of the zone, but Meloni was still called upon to make multiple doorstop saves to keep her team ahead. 

However, just over a minute and a half into the third period, Colgate forward Kaitlyn O’Donohoe was finally able to force one behind Meloni to tie the game at one. The goal was immediately reviewed, as the net had come off of its pegs behind Meloni, but was confirmed as a good goal. 

Following the early Colgate goal, the game immediately tightened up, with both teams willing to slow the game down in hopes of avoiding allowing a second goal. 

For the Bulldogs, the best chances of the third period came on the power play. Forward Becca Foggia ’22 drew a cross checking penalty with just under eight minutes to play in regulation and the Bulldogs looked positioned to take the lead. 

There were multiple opportunities for the Bulldogs to find the winning goal during the two-minute penalty, but every time it appeared inevitable, the Raiders would come up with a miraculous play to keep the game deadlocked.

In the final five minutes of the third, both teams had opportunities to win the game, but neither could put all the pieces together to win in regulation and the game headed to a 20 minute five-on-five overtime. During the regular season the Bulldogs went 1–1–1 in the three overtime games they played in.

“As good as they played, we were equally as good tonight and just didn’t find a way. I think we hit a couple pipes. We had rebounds that were close, especially in that first [period],” head coach Mark Bolding said. “A bunch of really good looks on the power play in the third. It just wasn’t happening and you know it OT, anything can happen.” 

The overtime was largely controlled by the Raiders, with the Bulldogs struggling to hold possession of the puck and the Raiders generating multiple scoring chances in the extra period. 

The game came to an end with 15:15 left in the overtime period. Following a Yale turnover at its own blue line, Colgate forward and Most Outstanding Player of the ECAC Hockey Championship Kalty Kaltounkova skated in alone before roofing a backhanded shot past Meloni.

“What a great playoff game that was. You know, by two really good teams. Congrats to Yale on a well, hard fought game tonight,” Colgate head coach Greg Fargo said. “It really was, it was everything we thought it was going to be.”

Colgate secured an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament by winning the ECAC championship game, but for the Bulldogs, the team will now need to wait for the NCAA selection show to find out whether their season will continue if they are selected to be one of the 11 teams in the national tournament.

However, if this is where this season ends for the Bulldogs, it has been one to remember. The team set a program record for wins with 25 and many team members were honored as All-ECAC and All-Ivy players.

For the Bulldogs, the hope is that they will be able to draw on that playoff experience soon, in the NCAA tournament.

During the NCAA selection show, the Bulldogs’ hard work all season paid off. The Bulldogs secured the fifth overall seed in the NCAA tournament, which sees them playing the fourth overall seed for a spot in the Frozen Four. 

That fourth overall seed will be a familiar opponent for the Bulldogs, as the team will be making the trip to Hamilton, New York to take on the Colgate Raiders for the fourth time this season in a repeat of the ECAC Championship. The game will be the first NCAA tournament game the Bulldogs have ever appeared in.

The Bulldogs and Raiders will square off on Mar. 12 at Colgate’s Class of 1965 Arena.

SPENCER KING