The Yale men’s hockey team rose to the occasion in both of its games this weekend, as it thumped Colgate 3–0 on Friday and No. 8 Cornell 5–2 on Saturday. With the pair of victories, the Bulldogs catapulted themselves into the upper echelon of the ECAC standings, just two points off first place, with four regular season matches remaining.
The Elis (13–9–3, 11–6–1 ECAC Hockey) came into the matchups looking to rebound from two disappointing 4–0 and 4–1 defeats last weekend. And the Blue and White could not have expected any more of a spectacular turnaround in play. In both games at Ingalls Rink, the Elis played free-flowing, speedy hockey that outmatched their opponents with ease. As a result, Cornell (15–7–3, 11–4–3) conceded its highest tally of goals so far this season, while Colgate (8–19–3, 5–10–3) could not get any sort of offense going.
“We watched a little bit of video [after last week],” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “But I think if you saw both games this weekend, our defensive structure has been as good as it has been all year long and that’s what you need to do to win this time of year. I think our commitment to playing the right way was outstanding this weekend and that’s really a credit to [the players]. I think they got together and they decided to rebound from that last weekend.”
The series opener saw the Bulldogs take on a Colgate squad that has suffered a recent dip in form, but was still capable of packing a punching. The Raiders defeated both No. 6 Quinnipiac and Cornell since the turn of the new year. Yale did not let up, outshooting Colgate 32–18 in the emphatic win, while goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20 stopped all 18 shots to get his first career shutout.
Captain and defenseman Anthony Walsh ’19 broke the deadlock late on in the second period, smashing home a rebound shot that careened off a string of Raider defenders. Forward Mitchell Smith ’20 featured the Elis’ offensive prowess midway through the third to bring the score to 2–0. Forward Robbie DeMontis ’20 then completed the scoring later on in the same frame with a pretty transition goal that started when fellow forward Curtis Hall ’22 nabbed the puck from a defenseman behind the Colgate net. Hall then passed to forward Joe Snively ’19 who quickly shifted the rubber to DeMontis for his seventh goal of the campaign.
“We try and play a speed game all the time,” Allain said. “I think that’s a strength of ours and we were able to establish that in both games.”
Yale then faced-off against conference-leading Cornell and its imposing, physical defense. The Big Red had only conceded 25 goals before Saturday evening. But that meant nothing to a Bulldog side buoyed by the attacking hockey from the night before. The Elis deservedly struck first in the dying seconds of the first frame as Hall scored the first of his two goals in the game with a deft five-hole shot.
The offensive outburst kept on going in a frantic second period, with Yale grabbing another two goals within the opening four minutes of the frame. Defenseman Phil Kemp ’21 shot from the right circle before fellow defenseman Matt Foley ’20 had a blueliner fly past the Cornell netminder, Matthew Galajda, who was promptly pulled from the game as the Big Red trailed 3–0.
Although the Big Red fought back, scoring the next two goals, the Elis never seemed fazed in a game where they outshot Cornell 35–29 and dominated possession of the puck. Forward Ted Hart ’19 restored the Bulldogs’ two-goal advantage at 13:17 in the second, after which Hall struck, firing his second into the net midway through the third to make 5–2. This was Hall’s second two-score game this season.
Goalie Sam Tucker ’19 also turned in a terrific performance between the pipes with a couple of saves sure to go on his highlight reel. The senior made a great stop on a power play breakaway and later gloved a sniper shot in the third to keep the Big Red at bay.
“On Saturday, we were awesome defensively,” Kaczperski said. “Even when Cornell had some extended zone time, we just hung tough and stuck to our game and they couldn’t get much going. It was a great weekend for us all and that’s how we are going to have to play from here on out to keep winning.”
Only four games remain in the regular season and with Yale currently sitting in third, wins are more vital than ever. The Elis take a road trip to Dartmouth and No. 18 Harvard next week before closing the season out at home against Princeton and No. 6 Quinnipiac. The Crimson is one point behind the Bulldogs, while the Bobcats are one point ahead.
Yale plays the Big Green on Friday at 7 p.m. at Thompson Arena in Hanover.
Bill Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org