The men’s hockey team goes on the road this weekend to square off against conference rivals No. 4 Quinnipiac and Princeton.
The Elis (11–7–3, 9–4–1 ECAC Hockey) — who are tied for second with the Bobcats, just one point below No. 10 Cornell — match up against Quinnipiac (20–5–1, 9–4–1) in Hamden on Friday before driving down to New Jersey on Saturday to play the Tigers (6–13–2, 4–9–1). Yale has not faced either team yet this winter but will play both schools again in March to round off the season. Coming into this weekend on a two-game win streak after defeating Brown 4–3 last Friday, Yale looks to gain some much-needed conference points to pull ahead in the rankings.
“It’s a big weekend in terms of ECAC points and making sure we stay at the top of the standings, but everyone also gets a little bit more excited when we play Quinnipiac,” goaltender Corbin Kaczperski ’20 said. “We have been preparing all week for the type of games we expect to play against both teams, and I’m sure it’s going to be one hell of a weekend.”
Last weekend saw the Bulldogs command the game against the Bears. The Blue and White generated 41 shots on goal, while Kaczperski made 33 saves on the defensive end. Forward Joe Snively ’19 led the team to victory with two tallies and an assist. Forward Mitchell Smith ’20 and defender Jack St. Ivany ’22 also found the back of the net. Though the Bears made an impressive comeback effort in the last five minutes of the third period, it was not enough to overcome the wide lead Yale had built throughout the game.
During the 2017–18 regular season, Yale beat long-time rival Quinnipiac 3–2 at Ingalls Rink but lost 3–0 in Hamden. The Bobcats then bagged both ECAC playoff matches in March, prematurely ending the Bulldogs’ season. The two Yalies who scored in the 9–2 aggregate loss in the playoffs were forward Kevin O’Neil ’21 and then-captain Ryan Hitchcock ’18, who now plays for the Worcester Railers in the ECHL.
In last February’s win against the Bobcats, Yale forward Ted Hart ’19 scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, to put the Elis ahead 3–2 with a frame to go. What followed was a frenetic and action-packed third period in which goalie Sam Tucker ’19 made 11 saves. Two came during a stressful penalty-kill and power play situation following a cross-checking call on O’Neil. Quinnipiac then pulled its goalie with 2:30 left on the clock, but the Yale defense held fast against each attack to secure the hard-fought win for the Bulldogs.
“We need to treat this weekend like it’s a playoff weekend,” Hart said. “The standings are very tight right now, and we need every point. Friday’s game will be the most fun game of the year. The atmosphere at Quinnipiac is very intense, and it’s a great night to be a part of. We need to make sure our emotion doesn’t get the best of us, and we maintain our structure and discipline. Losing to [Quinnipiac] in the playoffs last year will definitely give us some extra motivation to win.”
Since their first meeting in 2006, Quinnipiac holds a 20–7–5 advantage over Yale. The Bulldogs will also try to keep a potent Bobcat offense at bay. The Elis have conceded 21 goals in the nine games that they have played since the start of the new year. While Yale has scored 62 goals so far this campaign, Quinnipiac leads the ECAC by 14 goals with 100 tallies on the season.
“We have two good opponents, and it’s going to be a good test for us in this last stretch of the season,” defenseman Billy Sweezey ’20 said. “Defensively, I think our biggest asset is going to be communication this weekend. Both teams we are playing have pretty dynamic offenses, so as a team, if we can sort out and defend as a unit, we should be able to slow their attack.”
After the Friday game, the Bulldogs turn to face off against a Princeton side that is bringing up the rear of the ECAC. The Tigers are currently second-to-last in the conference but have claimed victories against two Ivy rivals: Harvard and Dartmouth.
The Bulldogs hit the ice at Quinnipiac this Friday at 7 p.m.
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