This weekend, the men’s hockey team returns to Ingalls Rink after a series of away games, hoping to finish season play with a few wins and a first-round bye in the upcoming ECAC playoffs.
No. 15 Yale (14–10–3, 10–9–1 ECAC) will face off against Colgate (14–14–4, 6–11–3 ECAC) and Cornell (11–13–3, 7–10–3 ECAC) on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. In January, the Bulldogs bested the Big Red 3–2 in overtime but fell to Colgate 4–1.
With the close ECAC standings this season and one of four byes already secured by No. 1 Quinnipiac (23–4–5, 16–1–3 ECAC), eight teams will be competing for three remaining first-round byes this weekend. Yale, which is currently tied in fourth place with Dartmouth, needs two wins this weekend to pass through the first round of playoffs.
“I think a bye would be helpful,” head coach Keith Allain said. “We’ve got some guys who are banged up and who are in the middle of exams. But we’ll deal with whatever comes our way. Winning is always better than losing.”
Team captain Andrew Miller ’13 and forward Antoine Laganiere ’13 added that the first-round bye would help the team rest and prepare for the upcoming championships.
“Everybody at this point has something to play for, given that the ECAC is so tight this year,” Laganiere said. “We will have to be at our best in all facets of the game.”
While the Bulldogs lost their starting goalie Jeff Malcolm ’13 to a game injury on Feb. 1 and suffered a five-game losing streak, their February rut seems to have come to an end. Last Saturday, Malcolm returned to the crease, and the Bulldogs beat Princeton 4–3, marking their first win since Feb. 1. Yale won the 2012-’13 Ivy League Championship for the third time in the past four years with their victory over the Tigers.
Allain said the team was happy to have the senior goalie back and added that Malcolm will likely play this weekend.
“He was rusty early [last Saturday], and kind of grew into the game, and for the last 40 minutes he was rock solid,” Allain said. “It’s been a month since he played, so injury or not, that rust is a possibility.”
Malcolm said he has had a full week of practice and feels well prepared for the upcoming games.
“We want to sweep this weekend,” he said. “That’s obviously a goal going into every weekend. Our fate is in our own hands, so we’re just going to look at this weekend starting with Colgate.”
Puck-drop will happen at 7 p.m. on both nights at Ingalls Rink.