The Yale men’s hockey team endured a winless weekend in its home conference openers, dropping disappointing games to league rivals Colgate and Cornell at Ingalls Rink.
The Elis (2–3–0, 1–3–0 ECAC Hockey) slumped to a 4–1 defeat against Colgate (2–5–4, 1–2–1) before showing an improved performance against Cornell (2–2–1, 2–1–1) that failed to translate to the scoreboard in their 6–3 loss.
Colgate’s two-goal second period and defensive brilliance from goaltender Charlie Finn made the difference on Friday, while Big Red forward Mitch Vanderlaan’s quick hat trick proved insurmountable for the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“Our effort wasn’t exactly reflected by the scores this weekend,” defender Charlie Curti ’19 said. “We had some issues in the first game, but Saturday’s game was probably our most complete effort yet. We are happy with how we are progressing, but obviously not happy about the losses.”
The Bulldogs opened the weekend against a winless Raider squad that has not beaten Yale in seven games. But Colgate came out with energy and won, despite being outshot 37–28.
Individual slipups, poorly timed penalties and an inability to create chances in even-strength situations doomed the Bulldogs on Friday. Colgate got on the scoreboard first after a slip on the blueline let forward Tim Harrison in alone on goal, but forward Joe Snively ’19 tied the game with a breakaway goal.
Snively’s equalizer proved to be the only time that the Elis could solve Finn, who played masterfully for the rest of the game despite facing a number of high quality shots. Yale went 0–5 on the power play, while the Raiders were able to capitalize on Bulldog penalties as they extended their early 2–1 second-period lead later in the period.
“When [Finn is] seeing the puck like that is when he’s really on, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him find pucks like he is right now,” Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said. “He just seems to be in the zone, and we needed him to [be]. … We were back on our heels a bit against a really good team [in the third period] and Charlie needed to come up big and he did.”
Leading 3–1 in the third period, Colgate capped its night with a special teams finish after a five-minute boarding call on Chandler Lindstrand ’20 left the Elis shorthanded for the remainder of the game.
The Bulldogs played a more complete game against Cornell on Saturday, but a few defensive breakdowns denied them a positive result. Despite the long-term injuries to forward Jeff Kubiak and defender Ryan Bliss, Cornell’s biggest offensive and defensive weapons, the Big Red managed to defeat the Elis despite being outplayed for large portions of the game.
“We really missed [Kubiak and Bliss], and other guys were really stepping up their game,” Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. “When you travel on the road, you find yourself with adversity, and we’ve come together as a hockey team. … When you lose guys, other guys get a chance to play, develop and get better, and we used that opportunity to get better tonight.”
The Cornell offense breached goaltender Patrick Spano’s ’17 net five times on 21 shots in the first two frames before he was replaced by fellow net-minder Sam Tucker ’19 for the final period.
Poor transitions left the Elis two goals behind in the first period even though they had many power play opportunities. Vanderlaan’s opening goal came 14 seconds after a Yale power play expired, and Alex Rauter doubled the Cornell advantage just seven seconds after the Bulldogs finished killing a five-on-three at 8:18.
After Vanderlaan extended the Big Red lead to 3–0 to start the second period , Yale’s first forward line of captain John Hayden ’17, Ryan Hitchcock ’18 and Snively went to work whittling away at the deficit. Hayden scored on a dish from Hitchcock to open the Bulldogs’ scoring before tapping home a rebound of Snively’s shot past Cornell goalie Mitch Gillam.
Yale looked like the team more likely to score with the momentum on its side, but the Big Red reasserted its lead in quick succession. A breakaway sent Cornell in on goal, and Vanderlaan followed up on a rebound off of Spano to complete his hat trick at 14:34. Less than a minute after forward Mike Doherty ’17 scored again following a sterling assist from forward Andrew Gaus ’19 at 18:18. Cornell restored its two-goal advantage when forward Trevor Yates beat Spano high to his blocker side, marking the end of his night in goal.
“Yale is a great defensive team,” Schafer said. “Tonight was just a weird game, we got up 2–0, so they were pushing all game. They’ve always been a team that has great skating speed and they’re good defensively.”
Despite out-shooting Cornell 42–27 on the night with many opportunities from superb positions, the Bulldogs couldn’t capitalize before an empty-net finish set the final scoreline at 6–3.
Yale’s special teams had a mixed performance on the weekend. The Eli power play, which had been an area of strength earlier in the season, went just 1–14 in the two games. The penalty kill proved better than the power play, allowing just two goals on 11 chances.
“We improved our level of competition over the course of the weekend,” forward Ted Hart ’19 said. “We put forth a solid 60-minute work ethic on Saturday, but we had too many mistakes defensively. In our league, you need to minimize mistakes to win games.”
Yale will travel to upstate New York next weekend to face Clarkson and St. Lawrence in its second ECAC road weekend.