An up-and-down weekend, in which the Bulldogs tied archrival Harvard on Friday night 3–3 in a high energy contest before falling to Dartmouth on Saturday 3–0, left the Yale men’s hockey team ready to hit the ice again as they prepare to fly to Northern Ireland over Thanksgiving break.
The Elis (2–2–1, 2–2–1 ECAC Hockey) entered the weekend after losing 4–2 to No. 17 Cornell and beating Colgate by the same score last week. This time out, the Bulldogs struggled to gain an early footing against the Crimson on Friday and faced an early deficit against the Big Green two minutes and 34 seconds into the first period on Saturday. However, in front of a raucous home crowd, Yale showed fight in a back-and-forth affair with the Crimson. The Elis’ grit and determination rallied the team in both games, and Yale produced some excellent displays of skill and teamwork. The team now prepares to rally in Ireland, where they will participate in a four-team collegiate tournament.
“We weren’t happy with our performance last weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth, only getting one point out of four at home,” goaltender Corbin Kaczperski ’20 said. “But we have two weeks to regroup and focus on getting a couple wins [in Ireland] and getting back on track.”
Friday’s game against Harvard was an instant classic for the Yale community. A sold-out White Out Night showcased the best of what this talented Bulldogs team has to offer. A testy first period led to an intense second frame, featuring four goals. The Bulldogs fell behind 1–0 to Casey Dornbach’s goal created by an assist from Adam Fox, the Crimson’s stalwart and talented defenseman.
A partisan crowd at the Whale roared for the Elis, who revived with a pair of tallies no more than three minutes apart. Defenseman Jack St. Ivany ’22 smacked a shot from the left point 14:58 into the second period for his first collegiate goal. Forward Joe Snively ’19 contributed with an assist on his way to a two-point night.
With three minutes left on the clock, forward Justin Pearson ’22 forced a turnover in Harvard’s end that the Elis quickly turned into a goal scored by forward Tyler Welsh ’21. The sophomore right-winger slid the puck effortlessly past Harvard goalie Michael Lackey. But Harvard leveled the game up 46 seconds before the horn on a 4-on-4 matchup. The Bulldogs overcommitted on the play, leaving goalie Kaczperski vulnerable.
The third period provided a more physical matchup for the two teams. Defenseman Billy Sweezey ’20 was in the thick of it on two occasions, first for interference and second for goalie interference. Harvard made the most out of Sweezey’s first penalty to take its second lead of the night. Snively led the counterattack and scored on a fast break a mere 34 seconds after the Crimson’s goal to tie it up at three a piece.
Overtime beckoned, and in a frantic five minutes, the Elis missed their best chance to win it all. Forward Ted Hart ’19 saw his powerful shot flare up and away from the Harvard net to leave the game tied at the end of the day.
“I think the best thing I liked about our team tonight was the way we responded,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “They scored a power play goal, and we scored immediately on the next shift. That was huge for us because if they had the chance to sit on the lead for a little bit, it might have been a different story. We’ve also got some pretty good players on the power play. The key about a good power play is that you’ve got to take what they give you. If you don’t score, you expect to generate some momentum, and we did that tonight.”
The Bulldogs were unable to transfer their momentum to its next game against Dartmouth. The Big Green snagged an early lead, but the Elis came close to striking back. Forward Andrew Gaus’ ’19 goal was disallowed after video review found him to have knocked the puck into the net with his glove.
In a closely fought affair, chances were few and far between. However, the Elis found themselves with a fantastic opportunity late on in the third to tie the game up. The Bulldogs moved the puck with authority and created a shooting chance for forward Dante Palecco ’21, who dinged it off the pipe.
Yale’s defense still performed well, and despite conceding early, Yale’s goaltender Sam Tucker ’19 shone in his second start of the season and stopped 25 of 26 shots to keep the Elis within striking distance of the Big Green throughout the game. Dartmouth put its second and third scores into empty nets late in the third period after Tucker was pulled as Yale pushed for an equalizer.
Yale has the upcoming weekend off as it prepares to hop across the pond for the 2018 Northern Irish Connections Friendship Four Tournament in Belfast. The Bulldogs will play Union and potentially against Boston University or UConn.
“Since we don’t have any upcoming games this weekend, we’re just going to emphasize the importance of our practices more and really try to work our systems,” defenseman and captain Anthony Walsh ’19 said. “Right now our focus is on using this extra time we have to get better and grow as a team before the upcoming trip to Ireland.”
The Elis are set to play Union College on Nov. 23 in the tournament’s semifinal.
Bill Gallagher | email@example.com .