The men’s hockey team doesn’t exactly like the two teams that it is about to host this weekend.
Harvard needs no explanation. But Dartmouth?
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The last time the Big Green (6–15–0, 4–10–0 ECAC) came to Ingalls Rink, it was everything that a rivalry game is expected to be — back-and-forth action, a riled-up crowd and a fight on the ice.
Last year, the Bulldogs (12–6–3, 8–4–2) fought back after a Dartmouth player leveled right winger Sean Backman ’10 after the forward had just scored a game-ending empty net goal to give Yale the 3–1 victory. The referees were powerless to stop the multiple brawls, which postponed play for minutes. In the end, four players — three of them Bulldogs — received major misconduct penalties, and even the two head coaches shared some charged words at the end of the game.
How much this bad blood will factor into the intensity of this weekend’s games remains to be seen, but it will be in the back of left winger Brian O’Neill’s ’12 mind.
“What they did last year was definitely a cheap shot, but we’re trying to put it behind us and just focus on winning the game,” he said. “[Our game against them] last month got a little chippy. They’re a big, physical team so I’d expect this week’s game to be the same.”
The No. 8 Bulldogs have cooled down of late, splitting each of their last three weekends. But it hasn’t always been the higher-ranked opponent that has given Yale the most problems.
Last week, for example, the Elis controlled then-first place Union from the get-go, scoring 45 seconds into the game and outshooting the Big Green 40–25 on their way to a 4–3 Yale victory. But the next night, the home team was shutout for the second time this season 4–0 against RPI. Afterwards, frustrated head coach Keith Allain ’80 said that there was nothing positive to take from the game.
“We’d had a big win the night before but that’s no excuse for the way we came out against RPI,” O’Neill said. “That was the first time in my two years with this program that we have ever been so outworked.”
When the Bulldogs traveled to Dartmouth last month, it was a hard fought victory for the Elis. Yale was winning 3–0 in the third period, but the Big Green narrowed it to one before center Brendan Mason ’11 scored an empty net goal. Although there was no big fight at the end, the third period featured nine penalties in the last 10 minutes of play.
11th-place Dartmouth has won two out of the last three games, including a 3–1 victory at No. 20 Union.
Harvard may also be more dangerous than its eighth place rank indicates. After all, they’ve already beaten Yale once this season.
In January, the Crimson (5–12–3, 5–6–3) broke a 1–1 tie early in the second period and went on to win 3–2 at home.
Goaltender Nick Maricic ’13, who has been splitting time with Jeff Malcolm ’13 this season, said he will be starting on Friday night.
The Bulldogs host the Big Green on tonight at 7 p.m. and face off against the Crimson on Saturday at 4 p.m.