With only four regular season games remaining, the Yale Bulldogs moved into third place in the ECAC standings this weekend, decisively defeating both Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College in two days away.
Goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 pitched his eighth career shutout in the 2–0 Union bout, and only conceded one against RPI — a game that ended with a final tally of 4–1.
The Bulldogs, now (15–7–3, 10–6–2 ECAC), faced a similar weekend back in December, when they split two home games against the same opponents. Union (14–14–2, 6–11–1 ECAC) defeated the Elis in December, a game dropped by a 3–1 margin at Ingalls Rink. RPI (9–22–1, 7–11–0 ECAC) was again unable to match Yale’s offensive firepower, conceding one less goal this weekend than the last time they faced the Bulldogs and fell 5–2.
“It was a good weekend for us,” Mike Doherty ’17 said. “[We played] a strong team defense on Friday and kept a very offensive capable team off the score sheet. We were a bit undermanned Saturday and were able to get a good win.”
Coming off of last weekend’s defensive disappointment against Dartmouth, the Elis found a way to blank one of the most offensively minded teams in the ECAC. Through the first period, Yale outshot Union 17–4, netting one goal in the process off of a wide puck kicked out in front by the boards. Doherty won the race to the puck beside the crease and was able to put away his 10th of the season. The second was an empty netter from John Hayden ’17. Lyon, now tied for the national lead with five shutouts this season, stopped all 23 Union attempts.
“We are a different team now than we were in the fall,” Hayden said. “We have improved in all aspects and are definitely closer as a team.”
Unlike in the Union game, the Bulldogs’ offensive firepower struck early and often against RPI. Only three minutes into Saturday’s contest, Yale’s Carson Cooper ’16 found twine after one-timing a Doherty pass past RPI’s Jason Kasdorf.
Three minutes after that, Yale made it 2–0 on John Baiocco’s ’18 solo effort through RPI’s defense, finding the top of the net on his backhand from the left circle on the play. In the second, the offense continued to roll, as both Doherty and Frankie DiChiara ’17 found the score sheet, Doherty for his second goal of the weekend.
“It was a solid weekend in general,” Captain Tommy Fallen ’15 said. “We had guys step up at all positions which is always needed moving into playoffs. We play great when we show confidence and that is important moving forward.”
The four-point weekend pulls the Bulldogs within three points of second-place ECAC contender St. Lawrence and nine points of current leader Quinnipiac. Yale’s first matchup against Quinnipiac, last weekend, resulted in an anticlimactic 2–2 OT tie.
Though a somewhat disappointing outcome at home, the Elis look to claim a victory against the Bobcats this time in their next matchup, an away game only a few miles down the road.
“I think this weekend was as complete of a two games as we have played all year,” Ryan Hitchcock ’18 said. “That provides us a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Yale’s Friday matchup against Quinnipiac is slated to start at 7 p.m. Broadcasts are available on SNY and TSN TV.