This weekend, the men’s ice hockey team will be seeing Red.
The Bulldogs (0-2-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) will hold their home-opener at Ingalls Rink against the Big Red of Cornell (0-1-1, 0-0-0) on Friday night and then hit the ice again Saturday night to battle the Colgate Red Raiders (2-1-1, 0-0-0).
“I think you will see a different team this weekend than you saw against North Dakota,” head coach Tim Taylor said.
Last week, the Elis could not handle the bigger nationally-ranked No. 2 North Dakota, losing 8-4 Oct. 31 and getting destroyed the following night 10-0.
“We didn’t get too many penalties, and when we did they didn’t get a single power play goal,” Taylor said. “We need to continue to be disciplined but get tougher at the same time. We were just a step behind in every aspect of the game.”
Taylor recognized the challenge his team was up against.
“No matter how you look at last weekend, it was a tough assignment,” Taylor said. “I always like to challenge the guys with the best opponent, and I think the games against North Dakota will have a huge effect on the readiness level going into this weekend.”
Though it was a learning experience, the Bulldogs hope to rebound from the rough weekend, and in preparation for Cornell and Colgate, the Bulldogs have been focusing on their defensive play. The Elis look to put more pressure on the opposing team’s offense after having the Fighting Sioux dominate puck control over six periods of play.
“We have to handle the puck better so we can keep it once we get it out of the zone,” Taylor said.
The Bulldogs also continue to practice the power play, as they had not started to work on it until last week. Yale was unable to capitalize on any power play opportunities against North Dakota.
“Last week was the first time we really worked on the power play at all, the second half of this week we focused more on the [power play] breakout,” captain Vin Hellemeyer ’04 said. “We have tried to work a couple more plays this week, some of the things that take a little time.”
Taylor has also had his players work on fore-checking and their physical play in general.
“We have to be more aggressive on the fore-check, so we can get our forwards skating better,” Taylor said.
Defenseman Joe Callahan ’05 concurred.
“We didn’t play tough against [North Dakota] — that’s one of the things we have been working on,” Callahan said. “[In practice] we have the small guys on our team go against our bigger guys — you don’t have to knock him down or anything, you just need to try to keep him from making a good play.”
Taylor sees both Cornell and Colgate as similar teams and is approaching both games in the same way.
“Against Cornell we have to be ready for physical play, which had been a trademark of their teams, they have good fore-checking,” Taylor said. “Colgate recruited a lot of big guys; they look like they are building a team off the Cornell mold.”
Cornell opened its season this past weekend with a pair of games against a tough Western Michigan team. In the first game, the Big Red trailed 5-3 after two periods, but they fought their way back into the game and scored with 28 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, where neither team scored and the game ended in a 5-5 tie. The following night both teams battled again and this time Western Michigan earned a 3-2 victory.
While Cornell still searches for its first victory, Colgate has found early success. On Oct. 11, Colgate opened with a 3-3 tie with Northeastern. However, the following weekend they proved themselves in a two-game series against Ferris State, ranked No. 12 in the nation at the time. Colgate came from behind in the first game for a 5-3 win, but fell short in the second game 3-1. This past weekend Colgate blanked Findlay 6-0.
Both Taylor and his players are confident heading into this weekend.
“As I have been telling the players, each and every player needs to be hard to play against,” Taylor said. “There were too many guys on North Dakota that were hard to play against.”
Though Yale is smaller than both Colgate and Cornell, they have what it takes to beat any team regardless of size.
“There is going to be a size difference between us and most teams we play this year — you just can’t worry about it,” Hellemeyer said. “You just have to focus on playing the right positioning, you don’t have to go out there and kill people. With good position, it just makes it a lot easier to get a stick on them and run them against the boards.”
While they are not the biggest team in the league, Yale has lots of speed. Taylor has been switching up some of the forward pairs in order to best utilize his team’s speed.
This weekend at Ingalls should be a classic speed versus size battle.
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