With a 2–2–1 record in five nonconference games over winter break, the Yale men’s hockey team enters its season’s second round of conference matchups this weekend.
The No. 19 Bulldogs (8–5–3, 6–2–1 ECAC Hockey) emerged from the holidays with a .500 mark in their final out-of-conference stretch. Most recently, Yale defeated Sacred Heart 3-1 last Saturday in a game that was part of a fundraiser for the Connecticut Hockey Foundation. This weekend, the Elis host No. 14 Clarkson (14–6–0, 5–3–0) and St. Lawrence (3–6–1, 1–6–1), both of whom Yale defeated earlier in the season.
“We’ve seen them before so we know a little bit of what to expect from them,” goalkeeper Corbin Kaczperski ’20 said. “Two good teams are coming in, so we are just looking to play our game. When we play Yale hockey, we are skating, forechecking hard and creating offense from solid defense. If we do those things well, we will put ourselves in a great position to get four [league] points this weekend.”
The Bulldogs’ last meeting with the Golden Knights in early December saw Yale claim the game 2–1, snapping a two-game losing streak against Clarkson. Just 72 seconds into the game, forward Luke Stevens ’20 redirected defender Jack St. Ivany’s ’22 shot into the net to put the visitors on the board. After Clarkson notched an equalizer late into the first period, forward Dante Palecco ’21 found the back of the net on a power-play goal that turned out to be the game-winner. Yale recorded 38 shots on target compared to the Golden Knights’ 20 in the win.
Clarkson enters Friday’s match tied for fifth place in the conference standings race and riding a six-game win streak, the second longest in the nation. The Golden Knights, who swept Union and RPI last weekend with a combined 10 goals, look to build on their momentum this Friday at Ingalls Rink. In the longstanding rivalry against Clarkson, which dates back to 1930, Yale holds a 40-74-8 record. However, this season looks promising for the Elis, who look to sweep both of this season’s meetings.
“We want to be very structured and physical defensively Friday night,” forward Ted Hart ’19 said. “Clarkson is a great team so we need to make sure we are responsible in our own zone and take away their time and space. We also want to be very fast in transition to offense and make it difficult for their defensemen to break the puck out of their own end. We learned in December that at times we can be one of the best teams in the country, but we can’t take any periods off. If we don’t play hard for 60 minutes, we allow teams to come back in games.”
Last month, five different Yale players scored in the 5-3 win against SLU. Forwards Evan Smith ’20 and Joe Snively ’19, along with defender and captain Anthony Walsh ’19, gave Yale a 3-0 advantage in the first period. Midway through the game, forward Justin Pearson ’22 notched his first collegiate tally to widen the Elis’ lead.
In a surprising comeback, the Saints scored three consecutive goals, almost securing an equalizer in the final period before succumbing to penalty problems. Defender Charlie Curti ’19 scored the game-winner on a 5-on-3 power play to ensure the victory for Yale.
“We swept these guys earlier in the year so we are confident in our abilities,” defender Phil Kemp ’21 said. “Because these are conference games they’re critical for us as a team. We know they’re really important for the standings, and we have been preparing all week with that mindset. Our coaches are going to lay out a game plan and if we execute the game plan we will be successful. It’s a honor to throw on the jersey and play under the lights of Ingalls. As a team, we won’t forget that.”
St. Lawrence enters the weekend ranked last in the ECAC Hockey standings and on a five-game skid. The Saints lost to both RPI and Union last week.
Yale commences its second slate of conference matches ranked second in the ECAC at 13 points — just two behind leader No. 7 Quinnipiac. The Bulldogs will look to claim the top spot by collecting as many league points as they can in their upcoming matches.
“Our main focus going into tomorrow night is just going to be putting a solid 60 minute hockey game together,” Walsh said. “When we can play our game for three full periods consistently we feel that we can beat anybody. However, recently we’ve struggled to play with that type of consistency so that is what we’re going to be most focused on this weekend.”
The puck drops at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink on both Friday and Saturday.
Lucy Liu | firstname.lastname@example.org