After the national championship banner unfurls from the rafters this weekend, the Yale hockey team will aim to echo last season’s magic as it kicks off its home slate against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
The No. 11 Bulldogs (1–1–0, 0–0–0 ECAC) are coming off of mixed performances against Brown and Princeton last week at the Liberty Invitational Tournament, where they lost 4–1 to the Bears but beat the Tigers 3–2.
“We had a lot of positives to take from our second game against Princeton,” defenseman Rob O’Gara ’16 said. “We want to continue to improve on our performances game in and game out.”
Though this Friday’s main attraction may be the unveiling of the national title banner at Ingalls Rink, fans will also get to see one of the nation’s best college hockey players in St. Lawrence forward Greg Carey. After leading the country last year in goals scored with 28, Carey was selected as the pre-season ECAC player of the year.
The Saints (4–2–0, 0–0–0 ECAC) have also received unexpected contributions this year from forward Matt Carey, Greg’s younger brother. The freshman has four goals on the year, leading the team, though Greg has the team lead in points with eight.
Friday’s pregame ceremony celebrating the 2012-’13 national champion team promises to be a remarkable moment, but O’Gara noted that it will not change the Bulldogs’ approach to the task at hand.
“The banner raising is a special thing, but in our minds it’s only a few additional minutes of waiting for the puck to drop,” O’Gara said. “Everything before and after in preparation and performance will be business as usual.”
The Elis’ faithful will certainly keep an eye on which Yale netminder is between the pipes, where the Bulldogs have yet to settle on a starting goaltender. Although preseason ECAC all-rookie team member Alex Lyon ’17 started against Brown, recording 27 saves on 30 shots, fellow freshman Patrick Spano ’17 started against Princeton and picked up the victory with 22 saves of his own.
No. 17 Clarkson (6–1–1, 0–0–0 ECAC) will come to Ingalls on Saturday as one of the biggest surprises of the season thus far. Picked to finish last in the conference in both the media and coaches’ polls, the Golden Knights have surged to a national ranking behind a stellar defense: Their 1.50 goals allowed per game is tied for first in the country.
“As the defense corps, we need to keep our feet moving, keep our sticks in the lane and keep the opponents to the outside of the ice,” defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16 said in an email.
This year, the Bulldogs will have to contend with their heightened national perception. After last season’s unexpected title run, Yale enters the season with a target squarely on its back.
Obuchowski, however, thinks that the best way to rebound from last weekend’s rocky start is simple.
“We just need to keep that focus and complete level [from the game against Princeton] and carry it into this weekend,” Obuchowski said.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game will also be carried live on ESPN3.