It’s not do or die for the men’s hockey team — it’s do it for a bye.
In their last weekend of regular season competition, the Bulldogs (12-11-4, 8-8-4 ECAC) will be looking to steal a coveted first round bye in the ECAC playoffs, a feat that will be possible only if they sweep Union (14-11-6, 9-6-5) and Rensselaer (10-20-4, 5-12-3) and get a little help.
The Elis enjoy the luxury of having already secured home ice if they do not receive a bye, but this weekend will determine final seeding for the post-season, which Yale can enter in as high as fourth place or as low as eighth.
“We expect both games to be highly competitive as teams scramble for playoff positioning,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said.
In addition to post-season positioning, the weekend has some added significance for the Bulldogs. Coming off of two tough — and somewhat unexpected — losses to Harvard and Dartmouth, the squad will be looking to close out the regular season on a high note and shift its momentum as the Bulldogs head to the tournament with a clean slate.
Allain said the team met Sunday to talk about their lapses against the Crimson and Big Green last weekend and he was confident the team would bring a renewed energy to the final week of the regular season.
But the hurdles the Bulldogs will have to overcome are not insignificant. The Dutchmen, like the Elis, sit on the cusp of the top four and will be looking to guarantee the first-round bye for themselves with two straight wins. The two squads skated to 3-3 draw in the fall.
In the end, it will come down to whether the Eli squad — which has proven it can skate with the league’s best against squads — can put all the pieces together again.