After a disappointing start to its ECAC regular season and tournament title-defense campaign last weekend, the men’s hockey team welcomes archrival No. 3 Cornell to Ingalls Rink this weekend in its first ECAC homestand of the season.

The No. 12 Bulldogs (1–1–1, 0–1–1 ECAC Hockey) — who, with most of last season’s core and about 90 percent of its offense returning, were preseason favorites to top the conference — will play their first game in the newly renovated Ingalls Rink tonight at 7 p.m. They face the Big Red (3–0, 2–0) in a rematch of last year’s ECAC Tournament Championship final, in which the Elis defeated Cornell 5–0 in Albany, N.Y., for its first-ever conference tournament title. The Bulldogs follow it up with a Saturday evening showdown with Colgate, also at 7 p.m.

Yale swept Cornell in three meetings last season, twice in the regular season in addition to the ECAC tournament finals.

But this season, the Elis have had an unimpressive start. They began their ECAC season last weekend on the road and came out with just one point, losing to RPI and tying with Union.

Captain and defenseman Ryan Donald ’10 thinks that Yale can challenge any team when they play their aggressive, fast-paced style of hockey.

“I think that when we play within our systems we can be very successful which we proved to ourselves in the third period against Union, and this weekend will be no different,” Donald said.

The perennial college hockey powerhouse Big Red are undefeated so far this season and will present a tough test for the Bulldogs, but Donald believes that the team recreate last season’s success against the Big Red, in which Yale outscored the Big Red by a combined score of 13-5 in the three games.

“Our success against Cornell last year does give us some confidence, but ultimately we have to keep focused on the present,” Donald said. “They are playing well right now, and we are looking to make up for a disappointing first weekend.”

On Saturday evening Colgate comes to town. Yale won 5–4 in overtime in late January last season after a dramatic third-period comeback, yet lost at home last year 3–2, again in overtime. The Red Raiders (4–2–3, 2–0), like the Bed Red, opened their ECAC campaign with a sweep last weekend, defeating both Harvard and Dartmouth at home. They are undefeated in their last four games with three wins and a tie.

Forward Sean Backman ’10 hope that the fans turn out and create the energetic atmosphere, noting how the unique buzz inside the rink can give the players the lift they need.

“We feed well of the energy the crowd gives us,” Backman said. “I hope to see a packed house.”

Students can pick up free tickets for the games at the Yale Bookstore.