The ECAC men’s hockey leader board is a mess right now. Seven teams are within four points of conference leader Union, and three of these teams — Yale, Cornell and St. Lawrence — trail the Dutchmen by just one point.
The No. 6 Bulldogs (11–5–3, 7–3–2 ECAC) have the perfect opportunity to emerge from the heap and claim a share of first place for the first time this season, when they host No. 18 Union and sixth-place Rensselaer at Ingalls Rink this weekend.
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Forward Broc Little ’11 said that with only one month left in the regular season, the Elis know now is the time to bring their “A” game.
“We’ve beaten some quality teams, but we’re still working to find our identity as far as playing our game every night,” Little said. “That’s one thing that we did really, really well last year — we stuck to our systems. We’re still working on that this year, and that’s a big focus for this weekend.”
With first place within its reach, Yale will be looking to continue its 5–1–1 record at Ingalls Rink this season. Union is coming off of two losses last weekend — including one to 11th place Dartmouth — and will not want to be caught asleep again.
Although the Dutchmen were outscored 7–2 last weekend, they still boast one of the conference’s most potent offenses, ranking third in the ECAC in conference goals.
Last November, Yale saw Union’s firepower first hand, as the Dutchmen leapt out to a 3–1 lead in the second period. Only a goal from forward Sean Backman ’10 with six seconds left in regulation gave the Elis a 3–3 tie on the road.
But looking purely at earlier encounters, Saturday’s game against RPI could prove to be even tougher. In November, the Engineers broke a 2–2 tie in the second period with three unanswered goals to give them a convincing home win over the Bulldogs.
After a four-game losing streak at the beginning of December, RPI is 5–2–1 over the past eight games, including a victory over No. 20 Michigan.
Yale continues to sort out which freshman will be its leader in front of the net come postseason play. Having recovered from a hamstring injury, Nick Maricic ’13 was back swapping time with fellow netminder Jeff Malcolm ’13. Maricic started in last Friday’s 3–2 win at Clarkson and was put in during the second period at St. Lawrence on Saturday after the Saints got two past Malcolm in the first period. Maricic said he expects to start tonight against the Dutchmen.
Both games this weekend will start at 7 p.m.