It’s two steps forward and now one step back for the men’s hockey team.

After two solid weekends of ECAC play, the Bulldogs (10-9-4, 6-6-4 ECAC) faltered on the road this weekend, dropping back-to-back games to conference powerhouses No. 16 Quinnipiac (17-7-4, 9-3-4) and No. 19 Princeton (14-9-0, 11-5-0). It was a weekend of missed opportunities for the Elis, who had hoped to come away with four much-needed points to propel themselves into the upper ranks of the conference standings.

On Friday night, the Bulldogs skated with a talented Quinnipiac squad until the final period of play, when the Bobcats exploded for three goals to secure a 5-1 win.

The Bobcats pulled ahead late in the first period with a power-play goal at 17:52. They widened their lead to 2-0 early in the middle frame, but forward Sean Backman ’10 had an answer for that goal to keep the Elis within reach going into the second intermission.

Backman’s tally, however, was not enough to spark the Yale offense in the final frame. Just 46 seconds in, Quinnipiac’s Brandon Wong notched a goal that set the tone for the period. The Bobcats put up two more within the next six minutes and skated to a 5-1 victory when the final whistle blew.

“For us to be successful, we have to have all 20 players playing well,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “We didn’t get that [Friday night].”

Things started off similarly for the Bulldogs the next night in New Jersey, as the Tigers pulled ahead just 67 seconds after the opening faceoff with a goal through traffic. But this time the Bulldogs fought back, getting several Grade-A scoring chances before they finally tied the score at 7:45 after a Brendan Mason ’11 goal.

In the second period, however, Princeton took a commanding lead, starting with a shorthanded goal at 8:26. Within the next three minutes, the Tigers lit the lamp twice more to pull ahead 4-1. Left-winger Denny Kearney ’11 made it 4-2 with a goal at 15:16, but that was the last opening Princeton netminder Zane Kalemba would allow the Elis. Despite several more chances in the final period, the Bulldogs could not close the gap, succumbing by a final score of 4-2.

“We created a lot of chances, but their goaltending was probably the difference,” Allain said. “We have to finish our shots.”

Goalies Billy Blase ’10 and Alec Richards ’09 split time between the pipes this weekend, each getting both a start and some time in relief. Blase, who started against the Bobcats, combined for a total of 32 saves and gave up 4 goals, and Richards made 24 of 29 stops against the two teams.

Coming off a big win over Dartmouth a week before, forward David Germain ’08 said the Bulldogs were hoping to garner more victories this past weekend, which would have greatly improved their standings in the conference. The Elis now sit eight points out of first place in the ECAC, though they are still close on the heels of Cornell and Union, squads that hold the fourth and fifth spots. Final standings in the conference determine the seeding and home-ice arrangements in the ECAC Tournament, which begins in just under a month.

The Bulldogs will be back at the Whale this weekend to face No. 13 Clarkson and St. Lawrence.