On Saturday, the fourth seeded Yale women’s hockey team (28–4–1, 19–2–1 ECAC) faced off against the fifth seeded Northeastern University (32–2–1, 24–2–1 Hockey East) in the NCAA quarterfinals at home.

Northeastern proved to be a worthy opponent for Yale, snagging the Hockey East Championship for the sixth consecutive year and winning their 22nd straight game since mid-November. After a 4–1 loss to the Huskies, the Bulldogs’ record-breaking 2022-23 season came to a close. This is the second time in program history that the Yale women’s hockey team has reached the NCAA tournament.

“The last four years have been nothing short of amazing,” captain Claire Dalton ’23 told the News. “When I committed here, I would not have believed you if you told me we would make two appearances in the national tournament. All four teams I have been on at Yale have contributed to the team’s current success. I am so glad I chose to come here when I was 16 years old, it was the best decision I ever made.”

Yale has had a record-breaking year, both in single season wins (28) and single season goals (132). Forwards Dalton, Charlotte Welch ’23 and Elle Hartje ’24 have led the team in points this season. Dalton holds the Yale record for career assists with 89 assists. Hartje, Ivy-League Player of the Year, trails her by one. Dalton (133 points), Welch (128 points) and Hartje (128 points) are all on the leaderboard for most career points in program history.

Named a finalist for the ECAC Inaugural Wayne Dean Sportsmanship Award, Dalton has proven that she is not only a formidable player, but also a strong leader as captain. 

“Claire embodies and displays sportsmanship, class and humility, yet has a disciplined and elite compete level that truly sets her apart as one of the top players and leaders in our program’s history,” head coach Mark Bolding told Yale Athletics. “Her high-end talent, mindfulness of others and awareness for true sportsmanship on the ice is very much Patrice Bergeron-like. Claire plays the game ‘the right way’ and respects the officials and her opponents every game.”

Despite the Bulldogs’ impressive offensive production this season, the team came up short against the Huskies. Northeastern goalminder Gwyneth Philips was forced by Yale to make a season-high 38 saves. She is one of Pia Dukaric ’25’s competitors for the Hockey Commissioners Association National Goaltender of the Year Award.

Dukaric finishes the season with the second-best single season save percentage (.935) in program history, along with the best single season goals against average (1.42). She has also earned a record-breaking number of single season shutouts (8) for Yale.

After a scoreless first period, Northeastern struck first as Huskie rookie Lily Shannon faked to Dukaric’s left skate before breaking right to score on her backhand.

“That wasn’t an easy goal,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint told Northeastern Global News. “She got that puck on her stick tight and she had to get around the goalie pretty quick — and their goalie is very good.”

Late in the second period, Yale managed to sneak one past Phillips, but the goal was later waved off. Entering into the third period, the Bulldogs were down 1–0.

Yale came out strong in the third screen, outshooting Northeastern 18-to-nine, but was unable to stop Northeastern’s Chloé Aurard and Alina Mueller, both graduate students, from scoring. Mueller is a top-three finalist for the 2023 Patty Kazmaier Award.

The score was 3–0 with under five minutes to go in the game when Hartje intercepted a Northeastern pass in the offensive zone. She then dropped the puck behind her, allowing for Jordan Ray ’26, the Ivy Rookie of the Year, to shoot the puck on goal. Anna Bargman ’25 collected the rebound and sent the puck into the back of the net to make the game 3–1.

With less than two minutes remaining, the Bulldogs found themselves on a powerplay. Head coach Mark Bolding pulled Dukaric from net, making it a six-on-four powerplay, in hopes of generating a goal or two for Yale in the last minutes of the game.

Northeastern managed to score an empty-net goal to finalize the score at 4–1.

Bolding has been named a finalist for the 2023 Division I Women’s Hockey Coach of the Year Award. He is also the ECAC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, and he won the AHCA Coach of the Year Award for the 2021-22 season. Bolding is the first Yale coach of any sport to lead a women’s team to a NCAA semifinal. Many of the Elis credit Bolding’s belief in his team and his coaching abilities as the reason for the upward trajectory of the program.

“He deserves a lot of credit for changing our culture and establishing a winning, team-first mentality that hadn’t existed previously,” defenseman Emma Seitz ’23 said. “His leadership plus the experience that my class brought to the table contributed greatly to the success we were able to have as a team this year. We also had a good young core that will hopefully build on that success in the years to come.”

Maintaining a solid 23 members of its roster, Yale women’s hockey will graduate seven seniors this spring.

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