The Yale men’s hockey team, looking to improve on its consistency with three games slated over break, instead endured a narrow 5–4 defeat to Ivy rival Princeton before falling to crosstown-rival Quinnipiac 3–0 last weekend. Following the pair of conference losses, the Bulldogs returned home to take on No. 13 New Hampshire in their first nonconference matchup of the season, but fell prey to the Wildcats in a 4–0 loss on Saturday.
For the fourth time since 2015, Yale (3–6–0, 3–5–0 ECAC) failed to earn a single point against the Tigers (4–4–1, 3–3–1) and Bobcats (5–7–1, 2–4–0), in a weekend series that featured 18 penalties called against the Elis. In those two games along with the loss to New Hampshire (7–4–1, 3–3–1 Hockey East), the Bulldogs’ power play — which ranks dead last in the nation — went a combined 0–12 on man-advantages. The trio of losses contributed to the Elis’ first four-game losing streak in Yale’s last 42 games.
“The last three games have shown us just how competitive college hockey is and have highlighted the things that work and don’t work for us,” forward Will D’Orsi ’20 said. “It’s a given that we have to bring energy and enthusiasm to each game, but in this league there’s a fine line between winning and losing and playing well doesn’t guarantee a win… we’ve gotten more experience with what makes us successful and what slows us down, and we’ve talked about them as a group.”
Princeton, who advanced to the ECAC quarterfinals last season, opened the scoring on a power-play goal from forward Jackson Cressey last Friday. Forward Evan Smith ’20 netted an equalizer off an assist from his twin and fellow forward Mitchell Smith ’20 just over two minutes later. The Tigers’ special teams, ranked third overall in the ECAC in power play percentage, produced another goal when leading scorer and forward Max Verroneau fired a shot past goalie Sam Tucker ’19 to give his team a 2–1 advantage.
After three goals in the game’s first eight minutes, the lamp would not be lit again until forward D’Orsi produced the period’s fourth score to level the game at two goals apiece. But Princeton regained the lead with a pair of goals in the second period, as goalie Ryan Ferland turned aside all 13 of the Elis’ shots to send his team into the second intermission ahead 4–2. Despite five penalties, the Bulldogs generated two more scores in the final stanza, including a shorthanded goal from captain and forward Ryan Hitchcock ’18. However, an early goal in the third period from Grande proved too much for the Bulldogs to overcome in the one-goal defeat.
In Saturday night’s contest, Quinnipiac extended its five-game winning streak over the Bulldogs with a 3–0 shutout. Eight minutes of penalties in the first period put the Eli offense at a disadvantage, as the Bulldogs posted a mere seven shots during the opening frame. On the other side of the ice,Tucker managed to stop all 13 of Quinnipiac’s shots, with the Elis’ penalty-kill unit keeping the team alive as the offense struggled to find success.
“We definitely have found ourselves taking too many penalties in the last couple of games,” defender Adam Larkin ’18 said. “Of course, it’s hard to create offense when you’re a man down so frequently. We will just have to have more focus on moving our feet and putting ourselves in good positions so that we aren’t taking as many penalties and can get back to creating offense five on five.”
Quinnipiac defender Brogan Rafferty scored the first goal of the game, and his first goal of the season, early in the second period. The Dundee, Illinois native was assisted by forward Logan Mick and fellow defender Chase Priskie, as he gave the Bobcats a lead they would build on throughout the night. Quinnipiac failed to increase its lead in the second frame but outshot Yale by a sizable 19–6 margin and kept the Elis out of the net completely. Bobcat goaltender Andrew Shortridge saved 30 shots on the night, keeping even Yale’s leading scorers Hitchcock and Joe Snively ’19 from capitalizing on close looks and fast breaks.
Yale headed into the final period of play trailing by a single goal but could not decrease the deficit. The Bulldogs finally found offensive rhythm and outshot their opponent 17–11 in the third period, but Quinnipiac notched two goals in the final five minutes to secure the 3–0 victory.
After a week’s rest, Yale hosted New Hampshire on Saturday night. The Elis failed to score for the second consecutive game, ultimately falling 4–0.
“We’ve been in little bit of a skid here, but we are still encouraged with some of the things we’ve been doing on the ice,” defender Billy Sweezey ’20 said. “In terms of defense we just need to get back to our team structure and play hard in order to create turnovers and then move the puck up quickly. On the other side of things, we need to continue to play fast and be sure not to pass up on shots and opportunities when we get them.”
After a first-period goal by New Hampshire forward Ara Nazarian, the game stalled as the two teams traded shots. Offensively, the game was relatively even, with Yale posting a total of 34 shots on the night while New Hampshire tallied 37. In a scoreless second period, the teams combined for just 13 shots.
Just 48 seconds into the third period, forward Patrick Grasso ended a 30-minute scoring drought and gave the Wildcats a two-goal lead. Meanwhile, Yale failed to slide any shots past New Hampshire goaltender Daniel Tirone, whose .932 save percentage ranks him 13th nationally. New Hampshire forward Marcus Vela extended the Wildcats lead midway through the period before the team’s leading scorer, forward Michael McNicholas, added a fourth goal during a power play to finalize the scoreboard.
Yale will look to snap its four-game losing streak next weekend as it faces Rensselaer and Union in New York.
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