Harvard Beats Yale 5-0 to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

Kara Drexler. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Kara Drexler. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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.

Senior Hanna Mandl (seven saves) came on in relief of freshman Tera Hofmann (20 saves) in goal for the third period. Forward Lexie Laing tacked on a goal at 16:16 to make the final 5-0.

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 (sam.rubin@yale.edu, Yale Sports Publicity)