After completing a crucial two-game stand against Brown, from which the Elis took four points, Yale will look to continue its winning ways against St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend.
Over the course of the weekend road trip, No. 13 Yale (11–4–2, 6–3–1 ECAC) will contend in two critical games against teams that sit one point ahead of the Elis and two points behind them, respectively.
Clarkson (8–11–4, 5–4–2 ECAC) currently holds the seventh place position in the ECAC and could leapfrog the Elis this weekend depending on how the ECAC matchups finish. Conversely, Yale has the ability to leapfrog the St. Lawrence Saints (11–10–2, 7–4–0 ECAC) to move into third place in the ECAC with wins this weekend. Given how tight the ECAC standings are at this point, with only Quinnipiac holding a commanding points lead over any squad, this weekend’s games are key for a set of Bulldogs looking to take home a title this season.
“This is a huge road trip for our team right now and it is vital to our season, not only for the standings but our team momentum,” defender Ryan Obuchowski ’16 said. “We have had success in recent games and built momentum we would like to keep going, especially on this grind of a road trip.”
The Clarkson Golden Knights are coming off of a convincing 5–2 win over the Dartmouth Big Green and will be looking to notch another win over an Ivy League opponent to move into the top half of the ECAC standings. Though these two squads tied earlier this season, both Yale and Clarkson are different teams at this point in the year. The Bulldogs have won eight of their last 10, while the Golden Knights are trending the other way, having lost three of their four games in 2015. Given this, along with Clarkson’s sub-0.500 home record, it seems as though the Elis should be favored. James de Haas and Jeff DiNallo, both of who have produced 12 points in 21 starts for Clarkson, lead the Golden Knights on the attack.
Meanwhile, the Elis are headlined on the offensive side by forward John Hayden ’17, an alternate captain of the U.S. junior hockey squad who has produced 12 points in just 14 games with the team. And though Yale’s strong defense will have to contend with Clarkson’s offensive duo, goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 is in fine form, having allowed just one goal in his past two games.
“Right now we’re not concentrating on the standings or anything at all,” Mike Doherty ’17 said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time, one shift at a time. We’ve been playing well but we have levels we haven’t even gotten to yet that we’re trying to reach.”
Against St. Lawrence, the Elis will face a red hot Saints squad coming off of a big 5–1 win over Harvard, who holds second place in the ECAC. Essentially, the game will be a toss up between two teams holding nearly identical conference records and possessing major wins over title-contending squads like the Crimson. Though Yale’s defense has been prolific of late, the Saints have a deadly offense headlined by Patrick Doherty, who leads St. Lawrence with 17 points in 23 starts. However, the Saints’ offense is more than just Doherty as it is composed of eight players who have posted double digit point totals this season. This matchup will pit a strong scoring offense that averages three goals per game against an elite Yale defense that averages just 1.5 goals per game.
Friday’s contest will likely be decided by what unit breaks down first, St. Lawrence’s offense or Yale’s defensive front.
“Earlier this season St. Lawrence and Clarkson proved to be difficult opponents, so it is crucial for us to play fast and disciplined for all six periods this weekend,” Hayden said. “All ECAC games are demanding and hopefully we can continue to elevate as the season progresses.”
Yale’s next ECAC action following this weekend comes against Princeton on Jan. 30 at Ingalls Rink.