By April 2013, the Yale men’s hockey team had already faced Quinnipiac three times that season. Things had not gone as planned. In the regular season, the Bobcats rinsed the Elis 6-–2 at Ingalls and 4–1 in Quinnipiac. In the ECAC playoffs, the Bobcats blanked Yale 3–0. Qpac was the number one team in the country, racking up 30 wins and dropping only seven.
But both Qpac and Yale qualified for the NCAA tournament.
The Bobcats, the number one seed, scored 13 and allowed only five as they steamrolled over Canisius, Union and St. Cloud State on their way to the national championship. (If you haven’t heard of Canisius or St. Cloud State, just know that the former is in Buffalo and the latter is in Minnesota. So, they probably have some good hockey, eh?)
Yale, however, had also managed to make it to the final — though our trip there was a bit less smooth than Quinnipiac’s. We scratched and clawed past team after team to make it to the semifinals against UMass Lowell. In overtime, Captain Andrew Miller ’13 dangled past a defender, skated in unopposed against the goalie and slipped home the overtime, game-winning goal to earn Yale a national championship berth.
And so, the odds were stacked against us when the puck dropped in the NCAA finals between top-seeded Quinnipiac and the Cinderella surprise, Yale. Nevertheless, as every Yalie ought to know, our Bulldogs shocked those New Haven invaders, shutting them out in a 4–0 drubbing. Sure, this upset was pretty cool from a sports standpoint; but more importantly, QPac had not — and still has not — won a national championship. Which is to say, that victory secured to all Yale students indefinite bragging rights at Box 63 on Fridays and Saturdays … and on Thursdays and Tuesdays or whatever other days QPac students drive half an hour to New Haven in search of fun.
With that said, the Bobcats have, admittedly, pummeled us in our significantly less-important, not-national-championship games since then. To be exact, Yale has only topped Qpac once in our 14 bouts since. Is that ideal? No. But would I sacrificed the rest of our contests to annihilate them in a national championship? Yes. Yes, I would.
This year, the Bobcats are the fifth-ranked team in the nation; Yale is unranked. But the Elis have won when it has counted. We are, in fact, tied for first in the ECAC, and the Bobcats currently sit tied for third. Furthermore, according to the Yale Undergraduate Sports Analytics Group’s latest rankings, neither team is actually in the top 25. Now, YUSAG’s last ranking was Dec. 5, and there might be a bit of selection bias going on there anyway, but I am going to pretend neither of those things are true and view the rankings as a sign that this year will be different.
In all seriousness, watching the Elis on the ice does give the impression that 2019 has been and will be different. Last season, only three seniors skated for Yale. While the lack of experience did not bode well for the 2017–18 year, it was a harbinger of future success. The Eli roster is now loaded with talented youth. Two first years, Jack St. Ivany ’22 and Curtis Hall ’22, were drafted last year. Three others have played in nearly every game. Justin Pearson ’22 is second on the team in points, and sophomore Kevin O’Neil ’21 is third. Moreover, St. Ivany alongside sophomore Phil Kemp ’21 just competed for the Junior National Team in the World Junior Classic, helping push the U.S. into the gold medal game against Finland.
And our seniors cannot be overlooked either. Joe Snively ’19 is leading the team in points for what feels like the 25th time. Captain Anthony Walsh ’19 is the leader of the team in heart and soul, even if not in tooth count. And senior Sam Tucker’s ’19 2.30 goals against average and .92 save percentage both place him in the top 25 in the nation.
Thus, in two weeks’ time, on Feb. 8, when Yale takes on the Bobcats in Quinnipiac, things should — no, things will — be different. YUSAG and I ran the numbers, and according to our regressions, the final score will be 7.3 to -2 in Yale’s favor. And you can be there to watch it.
I spoke with Senior Associate Athletic Director — Yale’s ticket chief — Jeremy Makins, and there are a number of student tickets for the game. I can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that my friends and I are using up the last 14 of them; but there are tickets on StubHub. So, if the idea of sitting with 14 fools dressed as pirates, which we will be, in the student section at Quinnipiac, in our biggest hockey game of the year, sounds like an electric time, please email Mr. Makins at email@example.com or visit stubhub.com. Oh, and ask Mr. Makins for a student/fan bus as well!
Kevin Bendesky | firstname.lastname@example.org .