Coming off a winless road trip, the Yale men’s hockey team hopes to right the ship this weekend when rivals Dartmouth and No. 13 Harvard come to town.
The Bulldogs (1–3–0, 1–3–0 ECAC Hockey) traveled to upstate New York last weekend to face Colgate (2–3–5, 1–1–0) and No. 4 Cornell (4–0–0, 2–0–0). Yet, the Blue and White returned breadless, losing 2–1 to the Raiders and 6–2 to the Big Red. The Elis hope to end this streak with strong performances over Dartmouth and Harvard on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Though the Bulldogs lead the past 28 meetings against the Big Green (1–2–1, 1–1–1) 17–9–2, the Hanover-based team has a four-game winning streak against Yale. The Blue and White will then serve host to a hot Harvard (3–0–0, 3–0–0) squad, with the latter off to its best start in nearly two decades. In the three wins that the Crimson have tallied thus far into the season, it was the most recent of the triad in which Harvard played its most dominant game of hockey. The Crimson top line had its way against the then No. 15 Quinnipiac team last week, with over seven skaters recording a multiple point effort against the Bobcats. The scoring barrage was carried out expeditiously in the first by Harvard, as it got off to a 3–0 start before Quinnipiac even had a chance to catch its breath.
Arguably, however, the star of the night was rookie goaltender Mitchell Gibson, who stopped 32 of the Bobcat’s 34 shots — earning himself a second straight win in net and securing the well-deserved honor of ECAC Goaltending Goalie of the Week. The Crimson also found the back of the net on a third of its six power plays, which could forecast trouble for a Yale squad that has struggled mightily in defending against the man advantage in two of its last three games.
“I think you look at our record over these last three games, and it’s not pretty, but I feel like we’ve played better than our record indicates,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “I know that our guys are excited — we love playing here at Ingalls. It’s always a great environment, and we’re looking to get in the win column.”
Though Harvard enters this weekend as the top team in the Ivy League trio, besting the Big Green 7–3 two weeks ago, Dartmouth has also proved its strength early on in the season. The Big Green recorded a 2–2 tie with Quinnipiac and in its most recent match-up, defeated Princeton 3–1. The tie with the Bobcats is arguably Dartmouth’s most successful game so far this season. The Big Green’s Daniel Warpecha got the Green and White on the board first with a wrap-around kill just 3:36 into the first period. Though Quinnipiac held a 2–1 advantage in the second, Dartmouth responded and forced play into overtime. Netminder Adrian Clark registered 27 saves for the Big Green. Though forward Drew O’Connor, the 2018-19 leading scorer for Dartmouth, returns to the ice as a sophomore, the New Jersey native has yet to find the back of the net this season. O’Connor was second in the nation last year for number of rookie goals with 17 in total.
Like Yale, the Big Green has notched all its losses at away arenas. On Friday, the Elis will have both a home ice advantage and the support of Yale fans that comes with it.
“It’s a really tight league and we feel like anyone that shows up any given night can beat any other team in this league,” forward Brett Jewell ’21 said. “So, we are going to prepare every night like we have a chance to win and go out there and try to do just that.”
In the three contests that Harvard has battled in to begin its promising season, the program has outscored Dartmouth, Princeton and Quinnipiac by a collective total of 12 goals. Yet, it was against the toughest of those three squads — the nationally ranked Quinnipiac — that the Crimson looked most domineering. Harvard wasted no time in beginning its scoring assault, with forward Henry Bowlby jumping into a 2-on-1 rush in the slot — whipping a heavy shot by the Bobcat goalie for the score just seven minutes into the game. After taking full advantage of a major penalty, a behind-the-net feed to forward Justin Szeto in the crease gave the Crimson its third goal of the opening period.
After Quinnipiac tallied a power play goal to begin the second, Harvard answered back later that period with two goals of its own, breaking the game open with a frame still remaining. Twenty minutes, and two goals later, the Crimson secured a 7–2 victory in a match they controlled from center faceoff to the final horn. While Harvard has been playing nearly flawless hockey to start the season, it has come within the comfort of home ice at Bright-Landry Hockey Center — the real test will be to see if the team can sustain this success on the road against Brown and Yale.
The lead scorer for the Bulldogs, forward Curtis Hall ’22, will be sitting out for the Friday match-up. Hall was ejected from the Cornell game with a hard, illegal hit from behind, and League officials have suspended him for one game following the incident.
“We have to find how we want to play and how we want to impose our will and tactics on the other teams as opposed to sitting back and letting them do that,” forward Kevil O’Neill ’21 said. “We’ve been talking in the past couple of weeks obviously doing video to fix little things in our structure and as players, looking at what we need to do better to score more goals and win some games.”
The Bulldogs face off against Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.
Jared Fel | firstname.lastname@example.org
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