WOMEN’S HOCKEY: No. 2 Bulldogs claim first-ever ECAC Regular Season Championship
The Yale women’s hockey team dominated Dartmouth and rival Harvard in their final regular season games to secure the program’s first-ever ECAC Regular Season Championship.
Nader Granmayeh, Contributing Photographer
The No. 2 ranked Yale women’s hockey team (26–2–1, 19–2–1 ECAC) finished their regular season on a high note with victories over Dartmouth College and Harvard University that secured the Bulldogs their first-ever ECAC Regular Season Championship.
The win not only gives the Elis the regular season championship, but also grants them the top-seed in the ECAC Tournament, meaning they will have a home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs.
With a 6–1 victory over Dartmouth on Friday followed by a 10–1 shelling of the rival Crimson on Saturday, the Bulldogs secured their second new program milestone of the last two weeks by winning the ECAC Regular Season Championship just one week after winning their first-ever Ivy League Championship.
“Great statement game for the team,” head coach Mark Bolding said. “We’ve obviously had a great year and lots of success, but it really helps to have momentum going into playoffs. Lots of different goalscorers and lots of authoritative, attack-mode hockey, which was great. We know we defend well, so I think having some goalscoring confidence going into the playoffs is awesome.”
After defeating their rivals from Cambridge on Senior Night this Saturday in one of their best performances of the season, the Bulldogs now get to host Harvard at Ingalls Rink in a best-of-three ECAC quarterfinals matchup next weekend. Defenseman Sofie Zander ’23 scored her first career goal on Saturday against the Crimson.
“I’m pretty confident,” Zander said of the Bulldogs playoff chances. “We got a good thing going here so, I have no worries. We just play our game.”
Playing their game has gotten the Bulldogs to the point they are now, which stands as the best regular season in Yale history.
The Bulldogs 26 regular season wins are the most in team history, with the only blemishes being a tie to No. 14 Cornell and two losses at the hands of No. 3 Colgate. However, the team exudes confidence, with the coaching staff and players believing they have built something special this season.
“We play every game like a playoff game, so hopefully not much will change,” captain Claire Dalton ’23 said. “I know that the girls are dialed in for that and it’s exciting that we’re gonna get to host and then hopefully host the next weekend.”
The matchup with a Harvard team they outshot 54–16 and put up double digit goals against should inspire confidence, especially in star forward Elle Hartje ’24.
Hartje posted a career day against the Crimson, which is notable for a player who last season set the Yale record for assists in a season and went second all-time for points in a season. Hartje notched her second-career hat trick and earned an additional two assists to set a career best with a five point game.
For many, the shift in the program’s fortunes has been sudden, but for seniors like Zander, the answer is clear.
“I definitely think the team dynamic, that [one has] changed a lot over the four years,” Zander said when asked about what was different within the team. “We’re a lot tighter right now, especially between classes which has helped a lot. We’re playing more as a team which I think is the biggest difference.”
Hartje enters the ECAC playoffs having recorded at least a point in the last 15 games.