Coming off a sweep of Rensselaer in the first round of the tournament, the sixth seeded Yale men’s hockey team continues its ECAC Hockey playoff journey this weekend in upstate New York against the third seed, No. 11 Clarkson.
The Elis (15–13–3, 11–10–1 ECAC Hockey) will look to keep their momentum going after scoring eight goals while only conceding once against the Engineers (10–23–3, 7–13–2) in two games. Eight different Bulldogs found the back of the net in the first round. Maintaining form will be crucial against a Golden Knights squad (22–10–2, 12–3–1) that has taken down the likes of No. 5 Quinnipiac and tied No. 10 Cornell in the last month. Clarkson had a first-round bye in the playoffs.
“We know what we need to do to win, and we are preparing for [Clarkson] like we would any other weekend,” goaltender Corbin Kaczperski ’20 said. “We are going to try to play hard, Yale hockey and get speed on the forecheck. It’s going to be a good series.”
Last weekend against RPI, the team left behind its late regular-season woes, which saw the Elis drop their final four conference games. Yale’s offensive fortunes dramatically turned versus the Engineers. In their last two weekend series, the Bulldogs only scored thrice while conceding twelve. Yet on both playoff nights, Yale dominated possession and took its chances well. Their skill and relentless pressure resulted in two victories, 4–1 and 4–0, which required minimal fuss.
The Bulldogs split the regular season matches with Clarkson after winning on the road in Potsdam, NY., 2–1 while losing 4–2 at Ingalls Rink. Away from home, the Elis came out on top by playing their trademark aggressive speed game. Forward Luke Stevens ’20 gave Yale the lead a mere 1:12 into the first period. The junior redirected a shot from defenseman Jack St. Ivany ’22. Although the hosts levelled things up later on in the first, the Bulldogs jumped ahead for good with a power play goal notched by forward Dante Palecco ’21 after forward Kevin O’Neil ’21 drew the opposition out of position with his speed.
Back in New Haven, things went a little less smoothly for the Elis. Even though Yale outshot Clarkson 29–19 on the night, the Golden Knights blinded the Bulldogs with two goalscoring bursts. Kaczperski could not do anything as he saw the puck fly past him twice in four minutes in the first period and then again twice in ten minutes in the second.
“We need to maintain motion in the offensive zone,” forward Ted Hart ’19 said. “Clarkson is very good at slowing teams down in their zone and limiting their options. If we can keep our feet moving below the goal line and get shots through from the blue line, then we believe we can create a lot of offense this weekend. We’re very confident from our play last weekend against RPI, and we’re excited to get started against Clarkson.”
Yale also faces off against a team that is fresh off a bye week, courtesy of finishing top four in the ECAC Hockey standings. The contest between the two sides will pit momentum against rest, as both team battle for a semi-final berth and hopefully a trip to the final in Lake Placid.
The puck drops at Clarkson’s Cheel Arena on Friday at 7 p.m.
Bill Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org .