Yale's Aleca Hughes scored with 1:57 left in overtime to send the women's hockey team to a heartbreaking 3-2 loss Sunday.
On Saturday in New Haven, the Bulldogs blanked Brown, 3-0. The Bears were much sharper the following day back at home in Meehan Auditorium, but still fell short of their first conference victory when they missed out on a golden overtime opportunity.
"It was a dagger in the heart," said Head Coach Digit Murphy. "It's a bunch of young players searching for a victory and they just can't grasp it."
Yale 3, Brown 0
The start of Saturday's game was delayed by 90 minutes when a compressor malfunctioned at Ingalls Rink. Murphy said the problem in the cooling system did not significantly compromise the ice surface, but waiting for the game to start did a number on the Bears, who came out flat.
"It's tough to deal with that kind of adversity on the road with a young team," she said.
The Bulldogs finally capitalized on the Bears' inexperience in the second period, scoring two goals 98 seconds apart to take a commanding lead less than four minutes after intermission.
"That just killed us," Murphy said. "When we get scored on once, (the players) lose (their) focus, no matter how much you tell them."
Yale tacked on a power-play goal in the third, and the Bears were never able to find the back of the net.
"We were standing back," said Laurie Jolin '13. "We weren't aggressive, we were, like, afraid and respecting the other team."
Brown held a 30-27 advantage in shots, but Yale goalie Jackee Snikeris stopped them all to set a school record with her 13th career shutout.
"I think a lot of our shots weren't quality, they were from the outside, but we did end up getting inside that attack zone several times, and Snikeris came up big," Murphy said.
Katie Jamieson '13 made 24 saves for Bruno, while Alena Polenska '13 led the team with six shots.
Yale 3, Brown 2 (OT)
Sunday was a new game for the Bears, but it did not begin any better. Bruno took three penalties in the first 11 minutes, the last of which killed a power play and set the Bulldogs up for their first goal.
"We killed ourselves early," Murphy said. "We had a couple penalties, we didn't adjust well on the power play and it came back to bite us. We're not a team that's going to score more than two or three goals a game this year, (so) we've got to play stingy defense."
Yale took advantage eight minutes in when Heather Grant fired a shot from the right point that went wide but ricocheted off the boards to Caroline Murphy at the left post, who slipped the puck past Jamieson.
"That was bad, (especially) for us," Jolin said. "We have problems scoring, so we want to have the first goal. … We're usually like, ‘Oh no, they scored the first goal, we have problems scoring, so what are we going to do.' But today it was good. We caught up."
The Bears took less than two minutes before tying the game with a power-play goal of their own. Erica Kromm '11 was waiting at the right post to cash in on the rebound off of a shot by Polenska, with the second assist going to Jenna Dancewicz '11. The goal broke Yale's string of 23 consecutive successful penalty kills.
But the Bulldogs retook the lead 1:50 before intermission. Jamieson shifted to her left to make a pad save on a shot by Bray Ketchum, but rebound went right to Alyssa Zupon, who found the open side of the net.
The score remained 2-1 for most of the second period until Brown took advantage of another power play with less than four minutes left. Jolin went behind the net and passed to Kromm in the corner, who found Polenska at the point. As Jolin moved to the right post, Polenska "fired it from the blue line, it hit one of our players or their players, and then I just tipped it up," Jolin said.
"That was awesome," she added. "We were so pumped and we were like, ‘Oh my God, we can win this game. We can do this.' "
Neither team was able to win it in the third period, as Jamieson made 12 of her 37 total saves and Snikeris made 10 of her 31 total stops. Seven minutes in, Snikeris stopped Jolin on a breakaway and smothered the freshman's next shot when she recovered her own rebound. A minute later, Jamieson saved a point-blank shot by Yale's Hughes after a Brown turnover at the left post.
Less than a minute into overtime, Snikeris shut down a breakaway by Katelyn Landry '12 and then turned away a shot by Samantha Stortini '11, squelching a golden opportunity for the Bears.
"My whole line missed a lot of chances, especially at the end in overtime," Jolin said. "We could have won the game — it was there. We just couldn't get it in."
Yale did, when Hughes circled behind the net and around the right post, where she sent a soft shot across the goal mouth that deflected off a skate and past Jamieson, leaving the Bears stunned and the Bulldogs rushing the ice in a 3-2 victory.
Murphy said Bruno has improved since last year, when the players relied on All-ECAC goalie Nicole Stock '09, a former Herald sports staff writer, as a security blanket.
"We would play in the D-zone and just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best," Murphy said. "I feel now we're breaking the puck out, we're playing as a unit; you've got five people coming back and forth together, so it just seems downright unfair that we can't catch a break and be victorious."
Yale advanced to 9-11-3 (7-8-1 ECAC), while Brown fell to 0-13-3 in conference play and 2-16-4 overall.
"We've had a good energy in practice," Murphy said. "That's what you're kind of feeling and sensing on the connectedness. At some point it's going to cash in: Maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe one of these games down the stretch, it's going to come. It almost did today."
The Bears will hit the road this weekend to face Harvard (12-5-4, 9-5-2) on Friday and Dartmouth (8-12-2, 5-10-1) on Saturday. Jolin has a simple prescription for beating them.
"We played really well out there (yesterday)," she said, "so playing like that, even better, and just score whenever we have the chance to."