After a devastating 7–0 loss to No. 16 Harvard last weekend at Madison Square Garden, the Yale men’s hockey team looks to right the ship by etching more tallies in its win column.
The Bulldogs (6–9–0, 4–7–0 ECAC Hockey) are set to host both Union (6–15–2, 4–7–1) and Rensselaer (9–11–1, 6–6–1) — two teams the Elis already beat in early December. Despite the pair of victories, ending 2–0 and 4–1 respectively, both ECAC foes are currently ranked higher than the home team. RPI recently defeated No. 7 Clarkson 3–1, which may signal a surge in program strength since its latest matchup against the Blue and White.
The Puckmen have a 3–1 record since the new year, with their only loss coming against No. 1 Cornell. Union, ranked just one spot above Yale in the ECAC standings, enters the matchup hot off of a 3–3 tie against Cornell. Surely aiming to capitalize on their recent feats, both away teams look to pose as sizable threats against the Bulldogs. On account of the recent loss to Harvard, however, the Elis are looking inward in order to put forth their best fight possible.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be pleased with where my team is offensively unless we’re scoring seven or eight goals a game,” coach Keith Allain said. “I do think we’re doing a lot of things better compared to earlier in the season. We haven’t broken through yet with a big numbers game, but I’m certainly more pleased with where our offense is than where it was in the beginning of December.”
When Yale last played Union a month ago in Schenectady — a game that saw the Bulldogs nab a 2–0 victory — a perplexing trend was made visible once more. Neither team has a winning record on home ice against the other, as evidenced by Yale’s 11–14–3 record at Ingalls and the Dutchmen’s 12–17–2 record in New York. Additionally, neither team has been able to string together two consecutive wins against the other since 2016, making this weekend’s matchup all the more enthralling.
Union skates into New Haven fresh off of one of its most impressive performances of the season against one of the best collegiate hockey teams in the country: No. 1 Cornell. The Big Red got off to a quick start against the Dutchmen — a feat the former team has routinely done all season — scoring just three minutes into the contest. However, Union answered in the second half of the period with defenseman Vas Kolias cleaning up a rebound to equalize the game at one all.
On a Union power play in the second, forward Parker Foo fully capitalized on the man advantage as he redirected a shot from his teammate that snuck past Cornell’s goalie. It was Foo’s second goal of the week and the goal gave his team a 2–1 lead. While the Dutchmen managed to carry the advantage into the final period, the Big Red wasted no time in pushing back to tie the game. In a display of tenacious resolve, Union found the back of the net for the third time that night. The squad played its best defense of the season for ten more minutes to secure the stunning upset over the hottest team in hockey.
But the Big Red equalized just 38 seconds later. The Dutchmen managed to regain their defensive mojo and carried the 3–3 score to the end of overtime, delighted to skate off the rink with a tie against a legitimate national title contender. The match marked just the third time all season that Cornell has not emerged victorious.
“When looking at the larger body of work in the way we’ve played over the past five or six games, we’re happy with the way we’re starting to win games and the way we’re starting to play,” defenseman Matt Foley ’20 said. “It’s been our focus that has been keeping that going.”
Rensselaer has a mature team this season with five seniors spearheading the team’s success. Forward Chase Zieky and defenseman Will Reilly have both contributed 15 points over the course of the season, with Reilly tied for the greatest number of goals: seven. This breadth of offensive strength is quite different than what Yale showcases.
On the Bulldog squad, forward Curtis Hall ’22 leads with eight goals, and the next closest teammate, Tyler Welsh ’21, trails with five.
“We’ve been trying to refocus and work on some defensive skills in practice,” Hall said. “Obviously we didn’t score any last weekend, so I think we just need to regroup and come back ready to play an entire 60 minutes.”
In their last game, the Elis managed to hold off Harvard well in the first frame. The Crimson gathered strength in the second and third periods, however, and Yale’s defense appeared to be no match for Harvard.
The Bulldogs travel to the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport next weekend to play Sacred Heart in the Connecticut Ice Tournament on Saturday. Yale will then proceed to play either UConn, Quinnipiac or Sacred Heart on Sunday depending on the winners of the first round.
“Obviously last weekend was tough for us,” defenseman Chandler Lindstrand ’20 said. “This week of practice we worked to hammer home our systems, make sure everyone is on the same page going into this next weekend and come in swinging. We have a lot of leadership on this team that has been really vocal in trying to keep the energy up, which is tough after losses, but we are in a good position to bounce back.”
Goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20 is the Bulldogs’ top netminder with a 0.888 save percentage.
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