Steve Musco

After two heavy losses last weekend to No. 6 Quinnipiac and Princeton, the Yale men’s hockey team is ready for redemption this weekend, when they host Colgate and No. 8 Cornell.

Yale (11–9–3, 9–6–1 ECAC Hockey) has fallen down the conference standings in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, the Bulldogs found themselves only one point behind the leader — Cornell (15–6–2, 11–3–2) — but now, they are five points adrift in fifth place, following their 4–0 loss to the Bobcats (21–6–1, 10–5–1) and a shocking 4–1 collapse to the Tigers (7–14–2, 5–10–1). The Elis now have to regroup and focus on the Raiders (8–18–2, 5–9–2) on Friday and the Big Red on Saturday.

“Last week, we got off to a poor start against Quinnipiac and seemed to be playing from behind right from the start, which is something you can’t do against a team like that,” forward Luke Stevens ’20 said. “We played better against Princeton and worked hard, but when it came down to it, we failed to execute. This weekend against Colgate and Cornell, we have to get back to our game, which is moving our feet, forechecking hard and playing with confidence.”

The Elis first face a Colgate team that appears to be suffering a dip in a form of its own. The Raiders have lost some matches in dire straits this season, such as a 6–0 thrashing against Cornell on Feb. 2, and are currently on a 2–8 run since Jan. 11. Their goals have also dried up this season. Colgate has only scored 29 times in conference play while conceding 48. Nevertheless, the Raiders have also caused some shocking upsets. The Raiders beat Cornell in Ithaca 3–2 and Quinnipiac 5–4, both in overtime, this January.

On Saturday, Yale will face a Big Red side that currently sits atop the ECAC Hockey standings with a three-point cushion. While Cornell’s offense has tallied a respectable 48 scores in conference play, its defense has only conceded 25 times, the best record in the ECAC. Since Feb. 1, Cornell has only let in two goals in four games. In those same four contests, the Big Red offense has come alive and put home 13 tallies. The Elis need to ensure that their defense remains resolute against a side that is now eighth in the Pairwise rankings, which are used to determine and seed the NCAA tournament field.

“We need to be more disciplined in our structure and systems, both offensively and defensively,” forward Ted Hart ’19 said. “We also need to do a better job of supporting each other in the neutral zone. Our focus is to maintain more offensive zone pressure and create more scoring opportunities. Both Colgate and Cornell play a physical game that can slow us down, so we need to keep moving our feet and keep the tempo fast.”

Yale has more than enough talent to break out of its current funk. Despite the recent tough losses, the Bulldogs know that their offense can explode on its day. Forwards Joe Snively ’19 and Robbie DeMontis ’20 have both recorded a three-point weekend over the last month. The Elis can hope for them to put out more impressive shifts and spark a revival across the team. Goaltender Corbin Kaczperski ’20 is also coming off his game of the season against the Bobcats. The junior recorded 46 saves in a game when shots were coming from everywhere on the ice.

ECAC points are now more valuable than ever, with only four games left for the Bulldogs, who face some top-class opponents. Games against Dartmouth, a Harvard side that has gone 7–3 in its last 10 games, Princeton and the ever-dangerous Quinnipiac all remain on the Elis’ schedule. A positive record from these matches would hoist Yale higher up the standings and earn them a more favorable seed in the ECAC tournament.

The puck drops this Friday against Colgate at 7 p.m.

Bill Gallagher | william.gallagher@yale.edu