After a 3–2 season opener at Brown (0–2–0, 0–1–0 ECAC Hockey) last Friday, the Yale men’s ice hockey team looks to continue its early success at Cornell and Colgate this weekend.
In the history of the Yale-Cornell rivalry, which began in 1901, the Big Red (0–2–0, 0–0–0) hold a 84–60–8 lead over the Bulldogs (1–0–0, 1–0–0). Last season, Yale tied Cornell in a 3–3 overtime match at home before the Big Red came up on top with a 3–2 victory at Lynah Rink a month later. The series against Colgate (2–3–0, 0–0–0) has played out much more favorably for Yale, who has a 50–49–6 edge over the Raiders, which included a two win sweep during the 2017–2018 season.
“Our goals never change,” head coach Keith Allain said. “There are a variety of championships available to us. We’d like to be on the hunt for all of those. [During practice], we talk about the tradition of the program. We talk about what we’ve accomplished in the past, and what an honor it should be to put on that Yale sweater. We’ve had some great matchups [with Cornell] over the years, and I think Friday night will be a great game as well.”
Last weekend, forward Joe Snively ’19 recorded the fastest goal ever scored by an ECAC hockey team in its season opener. Just 14 seconds into the game, the Virginia native drove the puck into the top corner of the net and gave Yale the early lead. Though Brown drew level in the 11th minute, Snively justified his First-Team All-Ivy and pre-season All-ECAC Hockey team selections this year with a second goal just 17 minutes later. Having snuck the puck away from Brown goalkeeper Luke Kania behind the net, Snively won the race around the cage for a wrap-around tally and the 45th goal of his Yale career.
Brown’s Brady Schoo scored early in the second period to bring the trailing Bears level once again. But in the final goal of the game, forward Evan Smith ’20 sent a shot into a crowded slot, where teammate Luke Stevens ’20 was screening the goalie. In an outstanding maneuver, Stevens redirected the puck and slipped it past goalkeeper Kania to bring the final score to 3–2 in favor of Yale.
This weekend, the team faces tougher opponents in the Big Red and the Raiders. Cornell entered the season as the media’s and coaches’ favorite in ECAC Hockey polls, but fell 5–2 and 4–3 at home to Michigan State last weekend, the program’s first 0–2 start since 2010-11. But despite the Big Red’s dismal start, the Bulldogs know not to let down their guard. Last winter, Cornell led the nation in winning percentage at .788, and won its 22nd Ivy League championship in program history.
“It’s always tough to play at Lynah, but I think it’ll be a good road trip game for us,” Snively said. “There’s Ivy league points, and there’s ECAC points. I wouldn’t say it’s twice as important, but there’s going to be more excitement against Ivy xLeague teams. [Cornell] had a great season last year, but we’re a different team. We’ve got a great mix of first years and guys who have some experience.”
This weekend, the Bulldogs will look to improve on last season’s pair of close games, the first of which featured two early goals by forwards Robbie Demontis ’20 and Evan Smith ’20. In this game, Cornell responded with three consecutive goals before then-captain Ryan Hitchcock ’18 notched an equalizer with less than a minute on the clock to send the game into overtime. The teams finished 3–3 after overtime.
The next time the two teams met was in a rematch at Lynah Rink, where the Big Red scored the winning shot in the last two minutes of the game — defeating the Elis by a narrow 3–2 margin. Goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20 recorded a career high 36 saves.
In the conference last season, one element of Cornell’s success was an increase in offensive output from its defensemen. The Big Red notched 21 goals from the blue line last season, a significant improvement from the 13 they scored in each of the two previous years. The Bulldogs’ speedy and versatile offense will be put to the test against Cornell’s tall, large-framed defensemen, who are adept on both sides of the puck.
“In terms of Cornell, our mindset is pretty much the same as every other game,” captain and defense Anthony Walsh ’19 said. “While we did have two really close games against them last year, that was last year and as a team we really don’t worry about what has happened in previous seasons. Overall, our mindset is to treat them as any other opponent that stands in the way of us getting points in both the Ivy League and ECAC and to come in with the utmost confidence in the guys on our bench.”
On Saturday, the Bulldogs will face Colgate, who opened this season with two wins against New Hampshire but are now on a losing streak after losing once to Rochester Institute of Technology and twice to Miami.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. on Friday night in Ithaca.
Lucy Liu | firstname.lastname@example.org .