As Yale students continue bundling up to brave the cold, the men’s hockey team goes on the road this weekend to hit the ice in New York. The No. 20 Bulldogs (9–6–3, 7–3–1 ECAC Hockey) will face No. 16 Union (11–6–4, 4–5–1) on Friday before matching up against Rensselaer (7–15–0, 4–7–0) on Saturday.
Last weekend, Yale split the set against No. 10 Clarkson and St. Lawrence. The Elis lost 4–2 to the Golden Knights but rebounded the next night with a 3–2 victory over the Saints. The win lifted Yale to first place in conference standings at 15 points, tied with No. 12 Cornell and No. 6 Quinnipiac. Five different players scored goals over the course of the weekend as the Bulldogs outshot both opponents. And defender Graham Lillibridge ’22 notched his first collegiate tally with a game-winner against SLU.
“Against St. Lawrence, we showed a lot of confidence offensively and it was great to get goals from defensemen,” forward Ted Hart ’19 said. “If we can get contributions from all four lines and the defensemen, we will be a very dangerous team down the stretch. We’re hoping to continue that confidence this weekend at Union and RPI, where it will be crucial for us to control the tempo of the game and have an attacking mindset.”
Tomorrow’s game marks the third time this season that Yale matches up against Union. The first was in Belfast, Ireland at the Friendship Four Tournament, where the teams skated to a 1–1 tie before the Dutchmen ultimately prevailed in a shootout. The Bulldogs went on to take third place in the tournament.
The teams met again in early December, when Yale got revenge for November’s game and swept Union 3–0. Forward Joe Snively ’19, who was named ECAC Hockey Player of the Week for his performance against the Dutchmen, scored two goals and notched an assist. On the other side of the rink, goalkeeper Sam Tucker ’19 shutout Union with 26 saves.
“These two ECAC games will be big for the standings, so the boys are ready to go,” goalkeeper Corbin Kaczperski ’20 said. “It’s never easy playing on the road, but we just have to play Yale hockey. Get pucks in, get pucks deep and set the tone early. The boys are excited to play, and I know we will bring our own energy to carry us through on the road.”
The Dutchmen enter Friday’s game ranked seventh in the ECAC after defeating St. Lawrence two weeks ago. Since their first meeting in 1991, the Bulldogs and the Dutchmen are even at 25–25–5.
After Friday’s game against Union, Yale will face RPI, a team it defeated 4–2 last month. Forward Justin Pearson ’22, who took top rookie honors that week, found the back of the net just over a minute into the first period. Defender Phil Kemp ’21 then scored on a power play. Pearson notched his second tally of the night halfway into the third period before forward Evan Smith ’20 scored on a feed from his twin Mitchell Smith ’20 to seal the victory.
“We’ve seen both of these teams before, so we know a little bit of what to expect from them,” Lillibridge said. “Last time we met these teams, we did have success, which gives us confidence heading into this weekend as well as the momentum from the win last Saturday. It’s always nice to have a balanced scoring attack throughout the lineup and get production from the back end. As a defensive core, we will look to continue producing to help the team win.”
The Engineers have won three of their last four contests and enter Saturday’s game coming off a 5–2 win at UConn. At eight points, they are ranked 10th in the ECAC standings.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Bill Gallagher contributed reporting.
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