After notching 14 goals in its first weekend of competition, the men’s hockey team will look to keep its red-hot offense rolling when conference play begins tonight.
No. 5 Yale will open ECAC play this weekend with a pair of home games against Princeton (0–2–0, 0–0–0 ECAC) and crosstown rival Quinnipiac (4–2–0, 0–0–0). The Bulldogs kept the red light flashing with two wins in their first weekend back in action. The Blue (2–0–0, 0–0–0) beat Brown 7–4 in the season-opener and first round of the Ivy Shootout on Friday night before returning to Ingalls Rink to top Dartmouth 7–3 in the second round Saturday.
“It was a good weekend offensively,” said forward Brian O’Neill ’12, who tallied three goals and two assists in the games. “It’s going to be hard to duplicate that weekend, but I think obviously every game we have the opportunity to score seven goals.”
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Indeed, the Elis put out impressive numbers in their first round of competition. Forward Denny Kearney ’11 had a four-goal, four-assist weekend that included his first collegiate hat trick and gave him a team-leading eight points. The left-winger is also first in Division 1 hockey for goals per game and assists per game. Kearney’s efforts earned him ECAC Player of the Week honors.
Forwards Broc Little ’11 and O’Neill currently rank second and fourth in points per game in Division 1 hockey, and the Bulldogs have the country’s No. 1 scoring offense.
Yale proved it could outlast its opponents twice over the weekend, rallying to close deficits in both games after shaky first periods. The Bears took a 3–1 lead over Yale on Friday night, which the Elis evened by the end of the six-goal first period. The following day, Dartmouth led by a goal at two points in the game, but the Bulldogs took the lead for good in the second period and put the game away with four unanswered scores in the final frame.
Despite a pair of powerhouse performances in the Ivy Shootout, the Bulldogs also let up seven goals to their opponents. Goaltender Jeff Malcolm ’13 finished with 16 saves facing Brown on Friday, and goalie Ryan Rondeau ’11 made 23 against Dartmouth the next night.
The Bulldogs’ goalies’ situations remain unclear. Jeff Malcolm ’13 and Ryan Rondeau ’11 each had a start this weekend, while Nick Maricic ’13, who led the team in minutes played last year, has not played. Head coach Ketih Allain ’80 has said that he will give starts to whoever earns them.
While O’Neill said the team hopes to improve in every position, he highlighted defense as the area that needs the most attention.
“Hopefully we can be tighter defensively this weekend,” he said.
In addition to tallying an impressive number of goals, the Elis accrued 45 minutes of penalty time. Yale’s average of 22.5 penalty minutes per game is the highest in Division 1.
Forward Chris Cahill ’11 single-handedly racked up 21 of those penalty minutes. Cahill received 17 minutes of penalty time against Brown for hitting after the whistle, roughing and for a game misconduct. The next night, Cahill earned himself four more minutes in the box for interference and facemasking.
Defenseman Gus Young ’14 skated off the ice Friday night with an upper-body injury. Young said the injury was “nothing too serious,” and that he hopes to return to the lineup shortly.
Yale’s league matchups begin tonight against the Tigers (0–2–0, 0–0–0), who dropped both Ivy Shootout games last weekend 2–1. Forward Andrew Calof scored both of Princeton’s goals against Dartmouth and Brown.
The Blue hold a 124–99–8 all-time record against Princeton, and beat the Tigers all three times the teams faced off last season.
“Princeton, you pretty much know what you’re going to get,” O’Neill said. “They’re a very hard-working team, with good goal-tending and are very disciplined.”
As for Quinnipiac, the Bobcats (4–2–0) own a 6–3–1 edge in the all-time series against Yale. The two squads met for the first time in the 2005-’06 season, and Quinnipiac took five of the first six contests. The crosstown foe also holds a 3–2–0 record against Yale at Ingalls Rink. Last year Yale crushed the Bobcats at Ingalls Rink, 7–4, before losing on the road, 4–3.
The Bobcats are coming off a weekend split — winning 4–2 before losing 5–2 — against No. 17 St. Cloud State, their first games against a ranked opponent. Quinnipiac is currently allowing .17 more goals per game than they are scoring. Those numbers come despite a penalty kill that is holding strong on 77.4 percent of opportunities — 10.7 percent more than Yale’s — and a defense that is blocking almost 20 shots per game.
The Bobcats offense is led by freshman twins Kellen and Connor Jones, who have four goals and seven assists between them.
The puck will drop in Ingalls Rink against Princeton at 7 p.m tonight. The Elis return to the Whale to take on Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. Saturday.