The excitement toward “The Game” has captured the attention of many at Yale. But in and around Ingalls Rink, the Crimson pale in comparison to the Big Red.

The Bulldogs (1–1–1, 0–1–1 ECAC) welcome their Ivy League rivals Cornell to Ingalls Rink on Friday night for one of this season’s most anticipated games.

“It’s always a big game for us playing Cornell,” forward Mark Arcobello ’10 said. “We know what it takes to win, but nothing is going to be given to us. We have to go out there Friday night and earn it.”

And earning it will be tough for the No. 12 Elis, who have been slow out of the gate in a season of high expectations.

The Big Red (3–0–0, 2–0–0), on the other hand, has won their first three games, rising from No. 5 to No. 3 in the Division I men’s poll in the process.

After an opening-game 5–2 win over Princeton on Oct. 31, the Elis lost their ECAC opener to RPI by the same score last Friday, only to muster a late-game tie with Union on the following night. The Big Red won their opener against Niagara 3–2 in overtime on Oct. 30, and swept their first ECAC weekend with convincing wins over Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend.

“This will be a huge test for us after getting just one point this weekend,” forward Broc Little ’11 said.

But if recent history is any indication, the Bulldogs have Cornell’s number going into the big game on Friday.

Last season Yale played the Big Red three times, and three times the Bulldogs shook off the tags and came out on top against a Cornell team with a historically dominant hockey program.

The first meeting saw the Bulldogs win 4–3 in Ithaca, N.Y., and they proceeded to win 4–2 on Feb. 27 at Ingalls to clinch the ECAC regular season championship. Yale was predicted to finish seventh in both the 2008-’09 coaches’ and media polls, while Cornell was picked to finish third, so both results represented impressive achievements.

These victories for the Elis, however, could not live up to the third meeting of the season between the two teams.

After defeating Brown in the quarterfinals and St. Lawrence in the semifinals, Yale was faced with the task of toppling Cornell again to bring home the ECAC tournament championship. The Bulldogs rose to the task and swept the Big Red aside with a resounding 5–0 win on March 21 to secure the championship, marking the most successful season in the history of men’s hockey at Yale.

Friday’s contest will be an interesting clash of hockey styles, according to head coach Keith Allain.

“It’s a really neat contrast,” Allain said. “They’re a bigger team that has, in the past, stressed defensive hockey and done a great job. We’re smaller and quicker and try to push our offense.”

Ingalls Rink was a cauldron of noise when the Bulldogs last welcomed Cornell to Ingalls Rink in front of a sellout crowd on Feb. 27, and Allain hopes that students will come out in numbers to create the famous atmosphere.

“There’s a great energy in building,” Allain said. “Especially in the last half of last year for a Yale-Cornell game. My advice would be you’d better get there early, they might be turning people away.”