With a hometown rivalry heating up the ice this weekend, fans are predicted to fill the Whale for a match between New Haven hockey giants Quinnipiac and Yale.
Both teams are known for their strong offenses and are in the top 10 in the USCHO.com national rankings.
No.4 Quinnipiac (12–1–0, 7–0 ECAC) leads the league. No.10 Yale (5–3–2, 2–1–2) is currently sixth in the ECAC with wins over No. 7 Cornell and Brown, a loss to Rensselaer and ties with Union and Colgate.
Along with the quality of hockey, the proximity of these two schools makes for a highly anticipated match.
“Obviously its one of the biggest games,” forward Denny Kearney ’11 said. “Their players come to Toad’s on Saturday nights and their students come to our rink and ours sometimes go to theirs.”
Last year, the two teams faced each other twice. Yale won the first match 3–0, and the two teams tied 3–3 later in the season. In the second game, Yale had a one-goal lead until the last 3:04 minutes of play when Greg Holt tied the game. The meeting between the two teams had 4,673 people in attendance — the largest crowd ever at a Quinnipiac hockey event.
This year, both teams have strong offenses, so there is potential for a high scoring game, said several Yale team members. Quinnipiac has scored at least three goals in each of their matches this season, tallying 56 so far this year. The Bobcats recently defeated No. 9 UMass in a 5–4 overtime victory on Saturday Nov. 28, and they currently have the longest Division 1 winning streak of the season.
“They’re always an offense-oriented squad, so I think Coach [Keith Allain ’80] will emphasize playing our system,” forward Broc Little ’11 said.
Little also added that the Bobcats run a smooth transition, so it will be important for the Elis to disrupt their momentum during transition plays.
But the Bulldogs have some fire power of their own. Although the Elis are coming off a 1–0 loss against Vermont on Monday night, 13 players have scored for the Bulldogs this season, and the team as a whole has outscored its competition 41-30. In the first and third periods, the team outscores its opponents 16–11 and 15–6, respectively.
“You know, every time we play Yale it’s a hard game,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “The teams are a little shifty and a little physical.”
Pecknold agreed with players in that the proximity of the schools made for a bit of a rivalry between the programs.
“We’ll have our hands full, but we’ll play our normal game,” Pecknold said. “Their top-six forwards have some of the top sticks in the league. They’re high-end kids and if you give them time and space they’re going to make plays.”
If anything, both teams recognize that their rival will take advantage of any mistakes and turn them to their advantage.
“They’re going to get their scoring chances,” defenseman Ryan Donald ’10 said. “Hopefully, we will get more and cash in on them.”
Faceoff is at 7 p.m. on Friday at Ingalls Rink.