Defensemen Shawn Mole ’07 and Matt Cohen ’07 kept head men’s hockey coach Tim Taylor for 15 minutes after practice Wednesday to work on positioning in the offensive zone. Mole and Cohen stood with Taylor on the blue line, the zamboni circling around them, and took turns firing one-timers into the boards, one after the other, working overtime to rouse the impotent Yale power play.
Though winless thus far, no one can accuse the Bulldogs of not trying.
Tomorrow night, when Yale (0-4, 0-2 ECAC) travels to Cambridge to play Harvard (0-2-1, 0-2-1), a win for the Elis could wash away the sour taste left by two weekends’ worth of losses.
“Pretty sweet,” Mole said, when asked about the prospect of triumphing on Harvard ice for the first time since 1997. “We need that first win to get the ball rolling.”
So does Harvard. And so does Brown (0-2-1, 0-2-1), whom Yale will visit Saturday. Brown and Harvard skated to a 2-2 tie Oct. 29 in the season opener. All three teams are looking to rebound this weekend after dreadful conference starts, but for now the Elis will set their sights on hated Harvard.
Yale is 0-9 at the Bright Hockey Center since Ray Giroux ’98, Jeff Hamilton ’01, and the eventual 1997-98 ECAC-champion Bulldogs won there nearly seven years ago. Although his class is the only on Yale’s roster to have ever beaten Harvard — regardless of venue — captain Nick Shalek ’05 is not concerned about history.
“We gotta get a win under our belt,” Shalek said. “We just need to be a little more energetic on the power play and a little smarter on the penalty kill.”
Special teams have been the bane of Yale’s first four games. The Bulldogs have capitalized on just two of their 30 power-play opportunities (.067 percent) this season, while yielding 13 goals in 28 penalty kill chances (.464 percent).
This season, referees have been encouraged to enforce all the penalties in the rulebook, particularly “obstruction” penalties, those which take place away from the puckcarrier. While the stricter enforcement has led to more power-play situations per game, it is no excuse for Yale’s embarrassing special teams percentages.
Taylor is well aware of his team’s struggles in man-advantage situations.
“We did a lot of work this week on special teams — power play and penalty kill,” he said. “With this new referee initiative, that’s part of what happens. We’re trying to use as many different guys as possible on the power play and penalty kill. And we’ll continue to do that until something works.”
Taylor is hoping something starts working sooner rather than later, which is why he spent extra time with Mole and Cohen to revitalize the offense. The proof of their efforts will be in the pudding this weekend, but Shalek feels Yale’s most pressing need is at the other end of the ice.
“We need to play tougher and tighter in the defensive zone,” Shalek said. “We’re trying to take a defense-first approach. If we play good D we can create turnovers which lead to odd-man rushes for us. By not playing good defense, we’re also hurting ourselves on offense.”