Despite strong defense, women’s hockey falls 4-2 to No. 8 Yale University

The Big Green fell to 8-11 on the season and 2-10 in ECAC play.

by Heath Monsma | 1/18/22 2:05am

by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth

On Friday, the women’s hockey team faced No. 8 Yale University for the second time this season. The Big Green showed significant improvement from its 8-3 defeat in New Haven two months ago but was unable to come away with the victory, ultimately losing 4-2.

In Dartmouth’s second top-ten matchup in five days, the Big Green came out flying in the first period, beating the Bulldogs to loose pucks all over the ice. Head coach Liz Keady Norton has instilled this hunger from the drop of the puck in her team.

“We’re not coming out here to just hang with these teams,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that Yale is ranked eighth or [Colgate University] is ranked sixth. We’re coming out to win and to prove a point.”

Dartmouth wreaked havoc with a strong forecheck early on and continued the pressure throughout the game, causing several turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones. Stymying Yale’s breakout and disrupting their passing lanes was part of the game plan for the Big Green.

“We were trying to focus on having a faster F2 tonight, because a lot of times, F1 gets in there and they don’t have any help,” said team captain Gabby Billing ’22.

The initial Dartmouth push set Yale back on its heels, causing the Bulldogs to commit two penalties, one for tripping and another for holding as they tried to keep the Dartmouth rushes in check. However, the Big Green power play failed to convert on its chances and the first period ended scoreless.

Five minutes into the second period, it seemed Yale had struck first, but after review it was deemed that there was goaltender interference and the goal was waved off. Less than a minute later, the deadlock was actually broken as a Dartmouth defensive lapse allowed the Bulldogs to bury a bouncing loose puck. The Big Green committed three penalties in the second period, but its kill was able to eliminate all of them. Keady Norton cited the penalty kill as one of the team's major areas of improvement. 

“We did a good job on our kill in terms of limiting their offensive chances,” she said.

Halfway through the second period, the Big Green penalty kill used a shorthanded forecheck to draw a hooking call on the Bulldogs. This negated the remainder of the Yale power play and also gave Dartmouth a man advantage for the next minute and a half. The Big Green was able to capitalize on this opportunity as Billing found Lauren Messier ’25 streaking down the ice — and her shot beat the goalie’s glove. The goal was Messier’s fifth of the season and tied the game up at one, but she said the play all started from a fortunate error.

“I actually messed up the breakout,” Messier said. “We switched our positions last minute and I ended up on the right side,” Messier said.

The rest of the period was a back and forth affair until Yale found a seam through the middle of the zone and scored a quick wrist shot to give the Bulldogs a one-goal lead heading into the locker room. 

To start the third, Dartmouth quickly dispelled any notion of a momentum shift, creating several chances on odd man rushes and breakaways. Four and a half minutes into the period, the Big Green broke through to restore the tie as the puck was slid five-hole by Laura Fuoco ’25. With just under ten minutes remaining in the game, a Yale player was able to sneak into the slot for a wide-open goal to restore the Bulldogs’ lead at 3-2. 

“Our lapses were around our defensive zone,” Billing said. “We’ve been working on trying to get five-man units all over the ice, so that it's not just one or two people in a certain area.”

As Dartmouth continued to apply pressure down the stretch, the Yale defense held strong. The Big Green’s best chance came on a two-on-one rush with three minutes remaining, but it resulted in a shot that careened inches wide.

“I was impressed with our compete,” Keady Norton said. “For the full 60 minutes, I didn’t question our effort at all. With COVID, we’ve been down a few players each game, but the silver lining is that we’ve had people step up in every other role.”

With 21 seconds left, Yale tacked on an empty-net goal to make the final score 4-2. The loss drops Dartmouth down to 8-11 on the season and 2-10 in the ECAC.

“It’s tough because a loss is a loss, and although we shortened the gap compared to our first game, it still stings,” Billing said. “We’re missing a little bit of that consistency piece.”

The Big Green have a busy week ahead, with matchups against Harvard University on Tuesday, Quinnipiac University on Friday and Princeton University on Saturday.

“There are some things to look forward to and there is a lot of season still to go, so we’re looking to be perfect,” Messier said. 

Keady Norton also had an optimistic view of the team’s future in light of the result against Yale.

“These kids worked so hard tonight,” Keady Norton said. “We’re finally starting to get the confidence we need to play the way that we actually can.”