CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Yale women's ice hockey team was facing a unique challenge Friday night: going up against a Harvard team that was fighting to avoid elimination from a playoff spot. The Crimson has been a constant presence in the ECAC Hockey Tournament for 20 years -- including six times when Harvard won it all -- but a rough 2016-17 season left Yale's rival on the outside of the playoffs looking in entering the final weekend. The Crimson were in ninth place, trailing eighth-place Rensselaer by three points. Yale, meanwhile, had clinched a playoff spot a week ago and was just two points away from clinching the No. 7 seed. On Friday night at Bright-Landry Hockey Center, a desperate Harvard squad wound up keeping its playoff hopes alive with a 5-0 win over the Bulldogs. Brianna Laing made 28 saves for the shutout.
Harvard (5-18-5, 5-12-4 ECAC Hockey) benefitted from three Yale penalties in the first, taking advantage of the first one to grab a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by forward Sydney Daniels at 6:14. Yale's best chance of the frame came on a delayed penalty against Harvard, as a shot by freshman forward Laura Anderson pinged off the crossbar with 30 seconds left.
Thanks to all those penalties, the Crimson had a 15-9 advantage in shots for the first period. The second period was more evenly played in terms of shots (10-9 Yale), but Harvard extended its lead with three goals. Daniels deflected in a feed from forward Briana Mastel at 6:58 to make it 2-0, and forward Kate Hallett buried a pass from forward Bradley Fusco on a wraparound at 11:47. Defenseman Chelsea Ziadie then roofed a loose puck in the crease to make it 4-0 with 27 seconds left in the period.
Harvard also got the result it needed down in Hamden, where No. 10 Quinnipiac beat Rensselaer. The Crimson needs a win against Brown in the season finale Saturday, and a loss by Rensselaer at No. 9 Princeton, to make it in as the eighth seed.
Yale (10-14-4, 8-11-2 ECAC Hockey) continues to play without its captain and points leader, senior forward Krista Yip-Chuck, who was injured in the Quinnipiac game two weeks ago. Harvard, for its part, dressed just four defensemen Friday.
Yale ends the regular season Saturday at Dartmouth (3:00 p.m.).
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org, Yale Sports Publicity)