Yale Women’s Hockey Defeats QU Again, Clinches Playoff Spot
The Yale Women’s Hockey Team finished their season series against rival Quinnipiac without losing a game and shutout the Bobcats in their past three encounters. It was a role reversal given QU’s recent success over the years and even this season the Bobcats were in a stronger position overall in the conference.
“I think it’s the confidence boost that we needed, from going through a little losing streak. I just really liked our effort today and how hard our kids played,” Yale Head Coach Joakim Flygh said.
Both teams are destined for the ECAC tournament though as Quinnipiac is the five seed headed to St. Lawrence next week. Yale, with the victory, clinched a berth and as the eight seed heads to Clarkson.
“I don’t think we played our best game. I think we need to be a lot better, and can be, and will be a lot better next week in the playoffs,” Quinnipiac Head Coach Cassandra Turner said. Later in response to a question on standout players amidst the loss, she responded that, “no one really stood out as playing a great game, and I don’t say that very often. I think we have a lot more than we brought today. And we certainly will get back to business and ready to attack the playoffs.”
The match up between the two teams separated by just a few miles, was a close contest, with neither side getting much of an advantage, but Yale picked up the only goal they needed in the second. When Quinnipiac was called for their only penalty of the game, the Bulldogs were able to deploy their effective power play unit. Yale sent in an attack close on QU’s Allison Small, and the keeper made the save, but the puck ended up on the stick of Emily Monaghan who got it into the back of the net as standout rookie Greta Skarzynski picked up the lone assist.
The only scoring that would follow would be late in the third when QU pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker, but as Small was skating away, a turnover in the neutral zone gave Yale’s Kara Drexler a chance to flick the puck down the ice and into the net. Drexler’s defensive partner, Grace Wickens snagged the assist on the dagger.
The usually explosive Quinnipiac offense was without Kenzie Lancaster in the lineup but still had plenty of fire power. Nonetheless they were held to only 16 shots which is an unusually low number. Very few of the shots were high quality chances at that and Yale’s Gianna Meloni took care of all of them. Yale’s defense kept major offensive threats Melissa Samoskevich (3 shots), Sarah-Eve Coutu-Godbout and Brooke Bonsteel (2 shots each) relatively contained which is hardly simple to do.
On a day of defensive success, defenders Mallory Souliotis had four blocked shots, Julia Yetman had three, Saroya Tinker blocked two, and Wickens got in the way of one. From the forwards, Emma Vlasic blocked two as Captain Kaitlin Gately and Laura Anderson had 2 blocks. Souliotis, Tinker and Yetman were the most noticeable on the d-line tonight working to flummox the Yale attack often. Souliotis had perhaps the non-scoring highlight of the game when she fell trying to stop Samoskevich from entering the zone, but still managed to swing her stick from the ice and back hand the puck back across the blue line. However, Lauren Moriyama, Drexler, and Wickens were very active defensively too.
“I don’t think we broke the puck out well today,” Turner explained. “They put a lot of pressure on us. I thought we lost our confidence with the puck. So we really didn’t challenge them. We really didn’t possess the puck the way that we can and should. I think that’s on us a little bit, and a little bit on how they pressured us.”
Small, to her credit played very well, as Yale sent 22 of their 23 shots at her, and she saved 21 of them. Her excellent play continued during some chaotic scenes in front of her net, where it looked like the Elis were on the verge of potting it, but Small didn’t allow it.
“We’re really happy with Allison,” Turner said. “She loves to be in that battle around the net, and she did that today a couple different times…in the second period. Huge for us to keep us in position to try to win that game.”
Quinnipiac did have their defensive successes as well as opposing threats like Vlasic, Jordan Chancellor and Skarzynski were generally held at bay. While Yale did have more good chances, and more shots spread throughout their lineup, the home team was still not as effective offensively as they have been in other games, including against QU. As part of that effort, Quinnipiac’s Kati Tabin and Alicia Barry had two blocks apiece. Kate McKenzie, Taylor House, Olivia Konigson, Laura Lundblad, Raquel Pennoyer, and Bonsteel all had one as well.
In facing St. Lawrence next week, Quinnipiac faces a team somewhat similar to themselves. Both teams are fast and stacked with potential scorers. When the two team’s met just last week, it resulted in a volatile game that was nonetheless a 1-1 tie.
“Their team, you saw it in our building, it’s fun hockey and no doubt they have some talented players, and I know our team is going to come ready to play,” Turner said of the upcoming series.
As for Yale’s trip to Clarkson to take on the defending national champions, “special teams are going to be huge,” Flygh predicted. “We’ve got to continue to play great defensively five on five, but special teams, making sure we score on the power play, and obviously keep them off the board on the kill will be a huge part to success. Gotta get great goaltending as well. I think that’s always a big part of it too. Hopefully one of our goaltenders can steal a game for us.”
Yale also celebrated Senior day and honored a large senior class of Gately, Monaghan, Pensavalle, Drexler, Wickens, Boston Pride draft pick Souliotis, and Connecticut Whale draft pick Eden Murray. Murray had the season cut short due to injury but was skating on the ice during the ceremonies.
“The kids wanted to play for the seniors, who have been tremendous this year as far as leadership and what they gave us on a daily basis at practice, games, all that…so I think it was a great way in a sense for the seniors to play for their last home game here in how hard we played,” Flygh said.