PRINCETON, N.J. — In the long history of Yale-Princeton women’s ice hockey, Princeton has held a decisive advantage, with a 45-5-1 record. However, three of Yale’s five victories have come during the three-year tenure of coach Hilary Witt. The latest was a tense 2-1 win Wednesday night at Hobey Baker Rink.
Yale (6-3, 5-2 ECACHL) is starting to make a habit of dealing No. 8 Princeton (4-4-1, 2-3 ECACHL) crushing defeats on the road. Last February a Yale win in Princeton cost the Tigers home-ice in the first round of the ECAC playoffs.
“Coming out here on the road the day before Thanksgiving is always tough for the visiting team but I thought our kids fought through some heavy legs and they worked hard,” Witt said. “They knew going into that third period that the team that came out harder was going to win it and I thought they did.”
It was at 4:06 of the third period that Bulldog junior forward Deena Caplette scored the game-winning goal, tapping in a rebound over the supine body of Princeton goalie Roxanne Gaudiel. The power-play goal gave Yale a 2-1 lead, and with stingy netminder Sarah Love patrolling the Yale goal crease, the task ahead of Princeton would prove to be insurmountable.
Love stopped 32 shots on the evening, aided by a perfect penalty-killing unit. At the end of the first period and then at the beginning of the second, a flurry of Yale penalties gave Princeton a 5-on-3 for almost four minutes. But the Tigers missed chance after chance, occasionally whiffing on open shots, while Love made several sterling saves.
“I keep saying we’re pretty darn good on that 5-on-3,” Witt said. “I can’t count how many 5-on-3s we had to kill today and we did a great job and we’re pretty confident on the penalty kill. With Sarah Love in the net you always have a chance to kill off penalties.”
The final power play marks were Yale 2-for-4, Princeton 0-for-8.
“Our power play is brutal,” Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal said. “Back in ’97-’98 we scored 7-for-7 on 5-on-3s. And we didn’t have an eighth of as good a team as we have now. The more we practice [the power play] the more paranoid we become about it. So maybe we should not practice it for a while and take a different approach.”
The Tigers have had trouble scoring all year, and now they have just two goals in their last four games. Their only goal tonight came when sophomore forward Kim Pearce knocked in a rebound to give Princeton a 1-0 lead midway through the second period.
That lead stood for just three minutes. With Pearce in the penalty box, freshman defenseman Helen Resor fired a slap shot above Gaudiel’s left shoulder for the tying goal. For Resor, a highly-touted recruit from Greenwich, Conn., this was her first college game after missing Yale’s first eight this season due to injury.
“Having Helen Resor back was important,” Witt said. “I didn’t plan on playing her as much as I did, but when the game is 1-1 or 1-0 you have to go with what you have. I thought she had an awesome game for her first game back.”
Witt has now led Yale to its best start in over twenty years. She even dares to imagine the Bulldogs cracking the top 10.
“If we continue to beat top 10 teams, somebody’s going to have to vote us in,” she said.
Yale has another shot at a top 10 team when it next hosts No. 10 Providence on Monday night. Princeton begins a two-game home series against Connecticut on Saturday. Both games begin at 1 p.m.