After a winless pair of home matchups last weekend, the Yale men’s hockey team looks to rebound against two challenging ECAC opponents as it continues league play.
The Elis (2–3–0, 1–3–0 ECAC Hockey) embark on their second road journey of the year as they travel to upstate New York to face No. 20 St. Lawrence (6–4–2, 3–0–1) and Clarkson (5–1–0, 3–1–0), who are second and third in the league standings, respectively.
Poorly timed penalties, inefficient power play and strong goaltending from the opposition has left Yale with a less-than enviable start to the season. The young Bulldog squad will look for improvement as its large freshman class continues to adjust to collegiate hockey.
“We need to try and take the positives away from last weekend,” forward Luke Stevens ’20 said. “Although it was obviously a disappointment to get swept at home, we did some good things that we need to continue to do and we need to be able to learn from the things we did wrong.”
Last weekend, the Elis fell 4–1 to Colgate on Friday night, despite outshooting the Raiders 37–28. The Bulldogs put together a more positive performance on Saturday night against Cornell, but some bad breaks led to a 6–3 defeat, Yale’s second consecutive three-goal loss. The Bulldogs’ schedule does not get any easier this weekend, as they face two challenging teams who have gotten off to sizzling starts and sit toward the top of the ECAC standings.
First up for Yale is St. Lawrence, a squad which thus far boasts the best defense in the ECAC, having allowed just three goals in its four league games. This defensive effort is spearheaded by netminder Kyle Hayton, who has the 10th best save percentage in the NCAA at 0.926 and who was named ECAC Goaltender of the Week last week.
Hayton is among the league’s leaders in shutouts, having already kept St. Lawrence’s opponents scoreless in two of his 11 games. The Elis, who struggled against goaltender Charlie Finn during their game against Colgate, will look to learn from this experience going into their matchup against the Saints.
“A big staple of our game is playing fast and getting pucks to the net,” forward Will D’Orsi ’20 said. “I think if we’re skating at top speed and moving the puck like we can, we’ll be able to put pucks in any team’s net, regardless of the way they play. We have the capabilities. It’s about us.”
The Bulldogs have also been relying heavily on captain and forward John Hayden ’17 for offense, with only two other players having scored multiple goals this season. Forward Ted Hart ’19 and defender Adam Larkin ’18 have scored just two goals apiece compared to Hayden’s five.
The Saints have a more balanced offence, led by forwards Gavin Bayreuther and Joe Sullivan, who have combined for 25 points in 12 games.
Clarkson will also provide a challenge for the Bulldogs on the road. The Golden Knights enter the weekend on a three-game win streak and have scored 12 times in those three games alone. Forward Jordan Boucher, who is currently averaging one point per game with seven total goals, leads the team, but Clarkson has also relied on its team depth for goals.
The Golden Knights also present a special teams opportunity for Yale, since they are currently third in the nation in penalty minutes per game with 241 minutes logged in the box so far. Yale’s power play got off to a hot start and before last weekend led the nation in conversion percentage, but has cooled off recently, only converting once in 14 opportunities against Colgate and Cornell. Clarkson has allowed at least one power play goal in its last four games, and the Bulldogs will look to capitalize on this trend and light the lamp early on the player advantage.
The Eli penalty kill unit, which continued to perform well last weekend, currently ranks 12th in the nation and will likely be instrumental to a Yale victory, despite the fact that Yale incurs fewer penalties than the national average. Ill-timed penalties, in particular, have hindered the Elis in previous games, and limiting such infractions will be a focus going into this weekend.
“The first few games have taught the young guys a lot about the league and what it takes to win,” defender Billy Sweezey ’20. “It’s not easy to win in this league and to do so we need to be at our best and play a full 60 minutes. For the defense specifically, we’ve learned we need to be faster and stronger on every play.”
Yale will face off against St. Lawrence at 7 p.m. on Friday before travelling to Potsdam, New York to take on Clarkson at the same time the following night.