Facing back-to-back ranked opponents this weekend, the men’s hockey team could not sustain the momentum from their last game against Princeton to take home a win.
The Bulldogs (9-13-3, 6-11-1 ECACHL) struggled to connect on offense the entire weekend, suffering defeat at the hands of No. 16 St. Lawrence (17-11-2, 13-4-1), 4-1, and No. 10 Clarkson (19-7-4, 11-4-3), 5-1. The Elis managed to score only two goals in total, despite getting in over 20 shots per game.
“We definitely struggled,” captain Matt Cohen ’07 said. “I think we had a chance to help ourselves out in the standings, and we let the opportunity slip by. St. Lawrence and Clarkson are two of the top teams in our league, so they definitely had better defense than we have seen in a while. Mostly, our drive to score and go to the net hard wasn’t there.”
Outshooting the Elis 9-4 in the first period, St. Lawrence grabbed a 1-0 lead just before the 15-minute mark. In his second consecutive start of the season, goalie Matt Modelski ’07 survived two breakaways in the period but could not stop the Saints’ leading scorer Kyle Rank, who received a feed at the right post and banged the puck into the net.
The Bulldogs were overwhelmed by the Saints’ subsequent offensive charges, as SLU raced to a 4-0 lead in the next two periods — including scoring one goal off the same play on which they had capitalized in the first stanza. Forward Greg Beller ’10, whose last goal came in overtime against No. 3 New Hampshire at the beginning of the season, had the lone Yale tally of the night to make it 4-1, but it came far too late in the game to spark an Eli comeback.
“We didn’t really play as well as we would have liked to,” forward Mike Karwoski ’09 said. “It wasn’t one of our better appearances on the ice.”
After Friday night’s disappointing performance in Canton, the Elis rebounded with much better play against Clarkson — although they still succumbed to the highly-talented Golden Knights, the highest-ranked ECACHL team.
“At St. Lawrence, our effort wasn’t really there,” Cohen said. “We really picked it up in the Clarkson game and realized that we can’t take any breaks — we have to go hard for 60 minutes.”
But the Elis still fell to a 4-0 deficit after a few costly mistakes in the first two frames. In the third period, the squad turned it around when Karwoski got the puck off a rebound from forward Sean Backman ’10 and flipped it into the back of the next at 6:48 to make it 4-1. Although the Golden Knights scored on a power play with just two minutes left to maintain a four-goal lead, the Elis were the dominant team in the frame.
“It was a pretty good team effort overall,” said Modelski, who finished the weekend with 23 saves against St. Lawrence and four in relief against Clarkson. “We just had a few lapses that gave them some big chances to score goals. The third period against Clarkson was one of the best periods I’ve seen our team play all season. The only time we got in trouble was when we took penalties.”
Much of Clarkson’s success was due to the Golden Knights’ ability to take advantage of small Eli mistakes, as the Bulldogs played a much more aggressive and focused overall game than they had against SLU.
“Even though we lost, we felt that we played very aggressively and played our style of game,” Karwoski said. “The puck just didn’t bounce our way.”
Finding ways to capitalize on their man advantages will also be something the Bulldogs will work on as they prepare for next weekend, when they will look to clinch the Ivy League title as they host Harvard and Dartmouth at home. The Bulldogs went scoreless on 15 power play chances over the course of the weekend and allowed Clarkson a shorthanded goal in the first period of Saturday’s contest.
“Our power play was clicking on all cylinders against Princeton, and for whatever reason, we couldn’t get it to work this weekend,” Modelski said. “Hopefully we can turn it around and get back to where we were against Princeton for [Harvard and Dartmouth].”