The boys are back in town. For the first time since spring semester began, the men’s hockey team will skate in Ingalls Rink against New York foes Union and RPI.
The Elis (8–7–2, 5–4–1 ECAC) will take to the ice after a long and trying trip to the North Country last weekend. But following a power outage, a postponed game and two overtime contests against ECAC bottom-dwellers, netminder Jeff Malcolm ’13 insists that the team is feeling as fresh as ever.
“Last weekend was an irregular one in that the schedule was changed around a bit,” Malcolm said. “But overall it wasn’t more taxing compared to other weekends on our schedule.”
The Bulldogs went head-to-head with Union and RPI in November in arguably their most impressive weekend thus far this season. The Elis beat RPI 2–0 and followed that win up with a 4–0 shutout over Union the following day. Those two victories were part of a three-game streak of shutouts for Malcolm, who saved all 45 shots he faced in the Union game.
But the Elis have been a different team since that dominant weekend, struggling to a 4–6–1 record, including a loss to a Sacred Heart team that has not won a single other game this season.
“We were able to have success by keeping our game simple on the road,” Malcolm said. “Heading into these games our mindset isn’t changing. We are comfortable when we’re playing Yale hockey, and as long as we play within ourselves we know we can have success.”
In the decisive 4–0 win over Union, forward Dan Otto ’12 led the charge and scored two goals. But, Otto will not be on the ice this weekend due to a season-ending injury. Forward Jesse Root ’14 said that the team misses his work ethic and positive attitude, but he is confident that some of the younger players can step in and fill the void.
Since the teams’ first meeting, Union (12–5–6, 6–2–3) has rolled, going 7–2–3 and climbing up the national rankings to its current position at No. 12. This run has included impressive 6–3 and 3–1 wins over No. 10 Michigan and No. 6 Merrimack. Yale is not currently ranked nationally. But despite the fact that Union has the ninth-best scoring offense and the top scoring defense in the nation, its biggest asset is in the net. Sophomore goalie Troy Grosenick has been sensational this season, ranking first in the nation in both goals against average and save percentage at 1.66 and .939, respectively.
“It doesn’t change much for us,” Root said. “We’re still going to do what we do every game, and that’s get the puck to the net, create traffic around him and get shots from everywhere.”
On offense, the Dutchmen are led by a player who is statistically similar to Yale forward Brian O’Neill ’12. Junior forward Jeremy Welsh has only .02 more goals per game than O’Neill, good for seventh in the nation. Like O’Neill, Welsh does most of his damage on the power play; he is averaging .41 power-play goals per game, just behind O’Neill’s mark of .47.
Following the Friday night matchup with Union, the Bulldogs will take on RPI (4–17–1, 1–8–1) Saturday night. As good as Union has been for most of the season, RPI has been just as bad. The Engineers are only 1–1–7 over their last nine games and have won a single league game this season, a 1–0 victory over Brown over two months ago on Nov. 12.
However, the men made it obvious that you cannot underestimate any opponent earlier this season. Two days before Thanksgiving, the Bulldogs lost a 7–6 shocker to then 0–11 Sacred Heart. The Pioneers have not proven anything since then either. Sacred Heart currently stands at 1–20–1.
“I dont think we will treat RPI any differently than how we treated Boston College or Sacred Heart,” Root said. “Our mindset going into every game has been the same. I don’t think we need to have a special game plan to make sure we don’t take them lightly.”
Standing out for the Bulldogs last weekend was forward Clinton Bourbonais ’14 who scored in both games including the goal that sent Saturday night’s game to overtime. Andrew Miller ’13 also had a strong weekend for the Elis, recording a goal and three assists for a team-high four points.
The action begins Friday night at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink for the matchup with No. 12 Union. The Elis will finish up the weekend on Saturday night at 7 p.m. against RPI.