The Yale men’s hockey team is preparing to for its final road trip of the regular season this weekend against two Ivy rivals, looking to continue its fine form. The standings at the top of the ECAC Hockey conference are tight, with the Elis only two points off first place with only four games to go.
Yale (13–9–3, 11–6–1 ECAC Hockey) won both of its games last weekend, including an offensive display of brilliance on Saturday night against conference-leading No. 9 Cornell, where it claimed a 5–2 victory. The Elis’ last two road games of the campaign are against a Dartmouth (9–12–4, 8–7–3) side sitting firmly in the middle of the conference and a Harvard (14–8–3, 10–6–2) group that is on a 7–3 winning run and is only a point behind Yale. The task at hand for the Bulldogs remains playing open, quick, attacking hockey that takes the game to their opponents, which worked so well for them against the best of the bunch last time out.
“[This is] no different to the first road trip of the season,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “We want to build off of last weekend and I think we’re still growing as a hockey team. We keep working on our defensive game, our offensive game, our special teams. Our goal each and every day is to get a little better, and that doesn’t change because it’s February.”
Last weekend’s successes against the Big Red and another 3–0 win against Colgate is an important starting point for the team. The Elis found confidence and were able to capitalize on goal-scoring opportunities in the opposition’s third, after a stretch of the season where they failed to convert on key chances. The Bulldogs constructed moments that were impossible to not convert against the Raiders on Friday night. The pick of the bunch was Yale’s third, when forward Curtis Hall ’22 stole the puck off an unaware Colgate defenseman stuck behind his own net and started a move finished off by forward Robbie DeMontis ’20. Against Cornell, the Bulldogs’ blistering speed against the more physical men in red saw Yale score the most tallies of any team this season against the team from Ithaca. Again, Hall had a day to remember, scoring twice on the night, taking his points tally to three for the weekend. DeMontis also had three assists on Saturday night alone.
The last time Yale faced its ancient rivals was in November, when the Bulldogs split the weekend. Forward Jack St. Ivany ’22, forward Tyler Welsh ’21 and forward Joe Snively ’19 scored in the 3–3 overtime tie with Harvard. After a goalless opening period, the two teams each notched a pair of goals in the second. St. Ivany fired a winning shot from the left side while teammate Welsh slipped the puck past the Crimson goalie. The last period saw Harvard convert a power play advantage, but the Bulldogs responded 30 seconds later with a wrist shot from the left circle by Snively. Both teams were unable to convert offensive opportunities in overtime, and Goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20 made 30 saves.
“We want to play exactly like we did last weekend,” Kaczperski said. “Our team defense last weekend was spectacular, and helped create our offense for us. We’ve had a great week of practice and we are looking to come out flying from the start of the game Friday and finish strong against Harvard on Saturday.”
Harvard enters the weekend after winning three out of its last four games, including a victory against then-No. 20 Union. The Crimson is tied fourth in conference standings at 22 points, just one below Yale.
November’s game against Dartmouth saw the Bulldogs lose 0–3. Though goalie Sam Tucker’s ’19 outstanding performance kept Yale in the game, the Elis were unable to convert their extra-player advantage in the last few minutes of the third period and instead gave up two additional goals to the Big Green. Dartmouth currently sits in the fifth place slot in ECAC rankings.
“Our goal is to generate offense by creating turnovers from our forecheck and back pressure,” said forward Ted Hart ’19. “We believe we can make it difficult on Dartmouth and Harvard to move the puck up the ice if we bring the same energy and discipline to our structure that we did last weekend. A stingy defense should allow us to exploit the other teams and create offensive opportunities.”
The puck drops at Thompson Arena on Friday at 7 p.m.
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