Following a weekend that saw both the ugly and the beautiful of the Yale men’s hockey team, the Bulldogs will strive for consistency against two ranked conference foes, No. 11 Cornell and No. 18 Colgate.
No. 13 Yale (10–5–4, 5–4–3 ECAC) played these two squads back in November. A 19–4 shot advantage led to two first-period goals en route to a 5–2 victory over Colgate (13–9–3, 9–3–1) on Friday, but Cornell (10–4–5, 6–3–4) ended Yale’s seven game unbeaten streak the next night on the strength of 30 saves by Andy Iles.
But the Bulldogs have changed since those games. Forwards Mike Doherty ’17 and Carson Cooper ’16, who combined for four points in the win over Colgate, will likely miss this weekend’s action, according to head coach Keith Allain ’80.
The Bulldogs started off last weekend’s home-and-home set against Brown on the wrong skate, losing on Friday night 3–1 after allowing two third-period goals. But Saturday was a completely different story. In a penalty-filled game that saw the Bears spend 48 minutes in the sin bin, the Elis set the tone early and often, netting four goals in the first 13:46 and winning 6–0.
“I don’t know if I’d use the word ‘aggressive’ or ‘dirty,’” Allain said when asked about Brown’s aggressive tactics. “I can’t speak for the other team, but I don’t think you game-plan to have one of your players knocked out of the game in the second shift of the game and a five-minute power play right off the bat.”
Saturday’s game marked the first career shutout for rookie goaltender Alex Lyon ’17. It was Yale’s first shutout since last year’s 4–0 thumping of Quinnipiac in the national championship game. It came, however, on the heels of allowing three goals on Friday.
“We’ve been a little inconsistent the last couple of games,” defenseman Matt Killian ’15 said. “I think we can keep more pucks out of our net, and obviously that’s a collective effort, but I feel good about where we’re at. Hopefully we’ll keep improving moving forward.”
Yale’s task this weekend will not be easy: Both the Big Red and Raiders are on seven-game unbeaten streaks, the longest current streaks in the conference. Colgate also boasts the most goals of any team in ECAC play.
But the great play from those teams does not change how the Bulldogs prepare, according to defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16.
“We try and come out the same every game,” Obuchowski said. “The fact [that] they’re on hot streaks is good for them, and it’s a testament to their hard work, and we need to beat them bottom line. It’d be nice to end their streaks.”
The Bulldogs are currently looking up at both of this weekend’s opponents in the standings. Cornell has 16 points compared to Yale’s 13, though the Big Red have played one more conference game than the Elis. Colgate, meanwhile, is a single point out of first place, tied for second with Quinnipiac at 19 points.
With the rest of Yale’s schedule consisting of conference opponents, every game will be crucial to the Bulldogs’ hopes for making the NCAA Tournament. Yale currently sits 18th out of 59 teams in the PairWise rankings, and only the top 16 qualify.
“Every game [is] a battle, especially in the ECAC,” Killian said. The parity is unmatched in any other conference across the country. We have to go into every game prepared and ready to go to work because anybody can beat anybody in the ECAC.”
Both games start at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.