It may not have been the Eastern College Athletic Conference playoffs, but last night Ingalls Rink was back in business for the first time since March. In their first action of the season, the Elis fell to the McGill Redmen (3-4-1) 3-2 in an exhibition scrimmage.

McGill’s Doug Orr began the scoring with a power-play goal 11:42 into the first period, beating goaltender Josh Gartner ’06 on a rebound. Forward David Germain ’08 countered for Yale minutes later with a hard blast from the left slot off a feed from linemate Ken Trombetta ’06. Defenseman Bill LeClerc ’07 broke the tie during the second period after forward Nate Jackson ’06 found him with a beautiful one-handed centering pass.

Yale could not hang on to the lead, however, as McGill added two more goals in the third period against goalie Matt Modelski ’07, who split the game with Gartner. The Bulldogs outshot McGill 37-24, but the Redmen made the most of their scoring chances. The score might have been 4-2 if not for an impressive play by defenseman Mike Grobe ’06 sliding to stop a two-on-one rush in the second period.

“I was disappointed we gave up two third-period goals to lose a scrimmage,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “But it was a scrimmage. That’s why we play them.”

Keeping his focus on regular season games, captain Nick Shalek ’05 was not concerned about the loss.

“We’re not too worried about the score,” Shalek said. “It’s something to learn from. We’re looking toward Saturday [against Western Ontario].”

More important than a victory, Taylor and Shalek were looking for answers to some of the team’s biggest questions. The Bulldogs lost their top two defensemen, Jeff Dwyer and Joe Callahan, to the NHL, and Taylor last night tried a number of combinations with his remaining unit.

“We’re very thin in numbers on defense,” Taylor said. “I thought Matt Cohen [’07] played well for 60 minutes, and Mike Grobe is going to be one of the best defensemen in the league.”

Blueliners LeClerc, Matthew Craig ’06, and Shawn Mole ’07 also figure to receive substantial playing time, as well as newcomer Rob Page ’08, who was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the sixth round of last June’s draft.

The defense was tested last night, as the Elis were whistled for eight penalties and were forced to kill a five-on-three McGill advantage for 1:08 early in the third period. The crowd gave Yale a loud ovation when forward Jean-Francois Boucher ’08 cleared the puck as the final seconds of the power play ticked off.

Among the 1,110 fans cheering was Mike Richter ’06, the former New York Rangers goalie who enrolled this fall as a junior in Calhoun College. While the rest of the crowd was catching its first glimpse of the Bulldogs, Richter, who has worked with the team during a couple of practices, had a good idea of what the 2004-2005 season will offer.

“I’ve seen them practice a little bit, and I’m impressed with their size,” Richter said. “They’re creative offensively, and their speed is phenomenal.”

Richter is particularly familiar with Gartner, the son of NHL Hall of Famer Mike Gartner, who played with Richter in New York for parts of five seasons.

“He was so young when I was in New York,” Richter said of Yale’s goalie. “He’s got very good fundamentals. A real competitor. I’m impressed with all the goalies. I think that will be a real strength for the team.”

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