Although Halloween is not until Sunday, Yale students will pack Ingalls Rink tonight and tomorrow night for some warm-up trick-or-treating. With any luck against Alabama-Huntsville and St. Cloud State, the Bulldogs will be able to deliver their fans an early treat with victories to kick off the regular season.
Coming off a 7-2 drubbing of Western Ontario Saturday night in the last of its two exhibition games, Yale seems to have found its confidence after finding the net on just two of its 37 shots a night earlier against McGill.
“We had some good opportunities and we just buried them,” defenseman Matt Cohen ’07 said of the blowout.
In the game, 14 different Elis tallied at least one point, including Cohen, who assisted on forward Jean-Francois Boucher’s ’08 second goal of the game. Forward Joe Zappala ’06 also scored twice.
“Our attitude is there are enough talented guys on our team who can put the puck in the net from freshmen to juniors — that if we play hard and play Yale hockey we won’t have trouble scoring goals,” captain Nick Shalek ’05 said.
But as the regular season kicks off tonight against Alabama-Huntsville (1-1), the team’s concern will not be scoring goals as much as preventing them.
Yale will look to shut down senior center Jared Ross, last year’s NCAA Division I leader in points per game. The diminutive Ross (5’9,” 160 lbs.), the son of Chargers head coach Doug Ross, is off to a fast start, with two assists and a team-leading 11 shots in U.A.H.’s first two games.
But Shalek is not worried about any individual player.
“The issue is team defense,” said Shalek, a natural forward who skated on defense against McGill. “Our defensemen, particularly the sophomore guys who got time last year, are looking strong. The key will be to have strong back-checking and play well in the defensive zone.”
As for who will be relying on that defense, Yale head coach Tim Taylor has yet to officially name his starting goalie, although indications are that it will be the junior Josh Gartner, who started 22 of the 31 games last season and was named ECAC goalie of the week three times. Whether it is Gartner, Peter Cohen ’05 or Matt Modelski ’07, defenseman Shawn Mole ’07 said he will have confidence in the man behind him.
“I think all three guys looked really good in practice this week,” Mole said. “They all played well in the exhibition games so I’m really not worried at all.”
Shalek echoed Mole’s sentiment.
“We’re confident in all three of our goalies,” Shalek said. “Our issues in the past have been not protecting them enough. We’re going to focus on keeping their shot total down.”
St. Cloud State (2-3-1) should prove to be a tougher opponent than Alabama-Huntsville. The Huskies have played half of their games against ranked opponents, so their record could be deceiving. Having watched the Huskies on film during the week, Matt Cohen said he knows they will not be pushovers.
“They’re a better skilled team,” Cohen said. “They’re big and fast. They’re going to be a tough team to play against.”
Shalek expressed similar sentiments.
“St. Cloud has traditionally been a strong hockey program and they’re usually a good team,” he said. “But if we have everybody going on all cylinders I don’t think anybody’s worried about these games.”