The high-tempo, physical play of both Brown and Yale will clash when the Bears visit Ingalls Rink Saturday night,
The Bears (1–7–1, 1–5 ECAC) face the No. 15 Bulldogs (5–2–1, 2–2 ECAC) for Yale’s third home game of the season tomorrow. The Bulldogs typically try to gain momentum against opponents by keeping the pace of play up and not letting the opposition slow down the game. What is normally a battle of systems and styles will instead be a battle of will between two teams playing the same quick and nose-to-the-grindstone game.
“Brown is always a tough team to play,” leading point-getter Kenny Agostino ’14 said. “They play a similar style to us. They work really hard and pride themselves in their work ethic.”
Both teams are coming off wins as they head into Saturday’s matchup. The Bears won a home contest against Holy Cross 3–2 last week, and the Bulldogs swept two nationally ranked teams in overtime last weekend, earning them the 15th spot in the most recent U.S. Collegiate Hockey Online polls. While the wins have helped build confidence among players on both teams, they do not necessarily lead to momentum.
“Because it’s essentially a weekend league, it’s hard for there to be carry over [of momentum] from Saturday night to Saturday night,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said.
In a game in which both opponents play a similar style of aggressive, fast and physical play, special teams will be particularly important for victory.
“Brown is an extremely hard-working team. They’ll always bring a lot of energy and never give up,” leading scorer Antoine Laganiere ’13 said.
Despite graduating their top two penalty killers last year, the Bulldogs have killed 30 of 34 penalties successfully so far this season. Stu Wilson ’16 and Josh Balch ’13, while not as familiar with the job as their predecessors, have led the team on the penalty kill, Allain said.
Brown’s penalty-killing unit, while not as effective as Yale’s, is not far behind killing 33 out of 40 penalties on the season.
Though the Bulldogs have succeeded in keeping opponents from scoring when short-handed, they still have room for improvement on the power play. Yale has put away six power-play goals this season on 35 chances. Brown has performed similarly, scoring four power-play chances on 38 attempts.
“I think that’s an area we can build on as a hockey team with the players we have,” Allain said. “At the very least we should create chances and gain momentum every time we’re on the power play.”
In the past 167 matches between Yale and Brown, the Bulldogs have won 88 games and lost 71. The remaining eight games were tied. More recently, the Bulldogs have won 12 of the last 16 matchups.
Yale is currently 2–2 in conference play and has the opportunity to go above .500 this weekend when the puck drops at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink on Saturday.