Saturday has the potential to be a great day for Yale athletics.
After The Game kicks off at 12:00 p.m., the Eli faithful will have plenty of time to make their way to Ingalls Rink for the hockey team’s 7 p.m. matchup against in-state foe UConn.
“Obviously the Harvard-Yale game is a huge deal, and it’s hard to compete with that,” forward Chad Ziegler ’12 said. “But we have some pretty loyal fans that are local, and it would be great to have a great student following as well.”
The Bulldogs (4–1–1, 3–1 ECAC) are currently tied atop the conference standings with St. Lawrence and Cornell, who beat the Bulldogs 6–2 two weekends ago. But Yale has turned it around since that game, going 3–0 with shutout wins over Colgate, RPI and Union in its last three contests.
Last weekend the Elis embarked on one of the most challenging road trips on their ECAC schedule to take on RPI and Union. The Bulldogs outscored their opponents 6–0 on that trip, and the two shutouts earned Yale goaltender Jeff Malcolm ’13 ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week honors. In the two games, Malcolm stopped 72 shots and helped the Bulldogs hold their opponents to 0–13 on the power play.
So far this season, Malcolm has exceeded expectations. Nationally, he is first in save percentage (.960), second in goals against average (1.33) and tied for second in shutouts (3). The shutouts occurred consecutively, which ties a Yale record originally set by Ryan Rondeau ’11 in March 2011.
“Malcolm is playing big and is able to see the puck really well,” Ziegler said. “He’s just standing strong in there whenever we need him.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs boast some of the best statistics in the country as well. The Elis rank first among all Division I squads in defending against the power play after killing 26 out of 27 through their first six games.
“We have a lot of guys that are willing to go the extra mile, work really hard and be in the right positions when they need to be,” Ziegler said.
UConn (3–4–2) will be making the trip from nearby Storrs, Conn. for the first time since November of 2008. Eight of UConn’s top nine scorers from last year are returning, a group that helped the Huskies reach the Atlantic Hockey Association Semifinals last season. This group is currently headlined by sophomore forward Brant Harris who leads the team with nine goals and 12 points.
Forward Charles Brockett ’12 said that while the team has not watched any tape on UConn, it is ready for a hard-fought game.
The Huskies also are returning an experienced goalie in junior netminder Garrett Bartus. He was second in the nation last season with 1085 total saves and has been named Team MVP the last two years.
But the Bulldogs will not be intimidated. After failing to score over two goals in its first four games, Yale finally topped that mark with a 4–0 victory over Union last weekend.
“[Early in the season] we always play teams that have played eight or so games, when it’s our first one,” Ziegler said. “There’s a learning curve. Coach makes practices a lot harder to get us to adapt, and I think that we’re coming together really well.”
The Bulldogs have played UConn eight times and have not lost yet, outscoring the Huskies 49–17 in the process. The puck will drop at 7 p.m. on Saturday night in Ingalls Rink.