It has been 643 days since the men’s hockey team last lost a regular season game at Ingalls Rink.
The Bulldogs (1–0–1) will attempt to continue their recent dominance at home as they take to the ice this weekend against two ECAC foes, Cornell (0–1–0) on Friday and No. 18 Colgate (4–2–1) on Saturday.The Elis went undefeated in New Haven last season, skating to a 15–0–1 record at The Whale and distinguishing themselves as the only Division I team with a spotless record on its home ice.
Anticipation for the Elis’ home-opener is rampant. CBS Sports Network will broadcast Friday’s game live and only standing-room tickets were available at the Yale Bookstore as of Thursday afternoon. But fans are not the only ones who are excited. Forward Kenny Agostino ’14 said the team itself is also eagerly awaiting its first home contest.
“It’s going to be great to be back at Ingalls,” Agostino said in an email. “Playing in front of our crowd is a special environment, and we’re all pretty pumped for the home opener.”
The Bulldogs enter ECAC play this weekend after going 1–0–1 at the Ivy Shootout last Friday and Saturday, which does not count toward ECAC standings. Last week’s action included a 2–2 tie against Princeton and a 2–1 win over Dartmouth. Although the Elis were still getting accustomed to new members of the team and playing full games, head coach Keith Allain ’80 was satisfied with the team’s performance.
“I thought we improved in some areas,” Allain said. “If you get three points on the road in one weekend, that’s not a bad weekend.”
But throughout the Shootout the scoreboard held an unfamiliar sight for the Eli faithful – the Elis put up only four goals in two games. Last year’s team notched 14 goals in Shootout games against Dartmouth and Brown. But Allain said that the Bulldogs created ample opportunities to score, and he has no concerns about the team’s offensive output.
“I thought we had some opportunities to score more, but we weren’t real efficient around the net,” Allain said. “As long as we score one more than the next guy, I’m happy.”
Yale hopes to find consistencyfinishing this weekend when it hits the ice against Cornell on Friday night. The game will be a rematch of last season’s ECAC Final, which Yale took handily by a score of 6–0. The Elis have defeated the Big Red in eight consecutive meetings.
But each team will look drastically different from the squads that participated in that contest. Both Yale and Cornell lost important seniors, with the Bulldogs graduating nine players and the Big Red graduating seven. Cornell lost its top two goal-scorers, Joe Devin and Tyler Roeszler, who combined for 29 goals and 52 points last year.
Allain said that the Big Red tends to be made up of bigger players, an advantage it uses in executing a defensive style of hockey. The Elis hope to negate this size advantage through their speed and all-around playmaking ability.
“I think the success that drove a lot of the high-scoring games against Cornell was because of the kind of match-up we present,” forward Charles Brockett ’12 said. “Our constant motion in the offensive zone seems to have provided difficulties for their defensemen.”
Cornell lost its season opener to Mercyhurst College 5–4. The Big Red erased a two-goal deficit heading into the third period but allowed two goals in the final 10minutes, allowing the Lakers to leave Ithaca with the upset victory.
Colgate, which was just 11–28–3 last year, is off to a strong start so far this season. The Raiders went 2–1 against two nationally ranked opponents, Nebraska-Omaha and Miami (Ohio), and are averaging 3.28 goals a game.
“Colgate’s a team that’s got some dynamic forwards, and they’ve gotten strong goaltending this year,” Allain said. “In terms of tempo, Colgate generally plays a faster tempo game than Cornell.”
The Raiders have beaten Yale just three timessince Allain took over in 2006. The two team’s last three meetings at Ingalls have all gone into overtime, including a 1–1 draw a year ago, the only home game the Elis did not win.
The Yale defense, which had just three returning players last week, will welcome the return of Kevin Peel ’12, who missed the opening weekend recovering from a broken foot. Peel ranked second among defensive players last year with 14 points.
The Bulldogs played all three of their first-year blueliners last weekend. Bennett Carroccio ’15, Tommy Fallen ’15, and Matt Killian ’15 saw significant playing time and helped to hold Princeton and Dartmouth to just three goals total.
“My impression of the freshmen has been great,” Brockett said. “The more games you play the more comfortable and confident you become. We are looking to everyone of them to not only contribute this year but also make big strides throughout the season as we move toward the postseason.”
Jeff Malcolm ’13 will likely get the nod to start in front of the net again after posting a .948 save percentage in two Ivy Shootout starts.
“Jeff was very good [last week],” Allain said. “I thought he was much better Saturday than he was Friday. Not that he was bad on Friday, but I thought he had some patches where he wasn’t as aggressive as I’d like him but Saturday night he was outstanding.”
Faceoff against Cornell is at 7:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. against Colgate.