The Yale men’s hockey team is entering the final third of its season, traveling to the North Country this weekend to take on No. 7 Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
A 6–2 loss to No. 20 Sacred Heart last Saturday in the Connecticut Ice tournament placed the Bulldogs (6–6–0, 9–10–0 ECAC Hockey) in the consolation round with UConn. Yet, with 42 saves by goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20, the Blue and White turned its weekend around and defeated the Huskies 3–2 — an identical score to which Quinnipiac bested UConn the day before. Though the Elis have a tough Friday matchup ahead of them against the ranked Golden Knights (10–3–0, 17–6–2), chances of a Saturday win against St. Lawrence (1–12–0, 3–19–3) look promising.
“This week in practice we focused on our forecheck, D-zone and our competing level,” forward Evan Smith ’20 said. “We want to make sure we have consistency game to game and shift to shift. It all starts with a good forecheck and translates to battles all over the ice, including the D-zone. We want to make sure we’re playing Yale hockey every time we’re on the ice.”
Clarkson’s rivalry with Yale began in 1930, and since then, the Golden Knights command a 78–40–8 lead. The league foes most recently faced off in November at Ingalls where Clarkson took the victory 4–1. Last season, the two teams each won on the other’s home ice.
The Knights, tied first in the league with No. 1 Cornell, are looking to capture both ECAC wins this weekend in order to remain at the top of the conference standings. The Knights boast an impressive roster which includes graduate goaltender transfer Frank Marotte, one of the strongest between the pipes in the nation. Marotte yields a .936 save percentage, and Clarkson’s defense ranks third nationally, only allowing 1.88 goals per game.
Despite Yale’s slow 1–5 start to the season, the Bulldogs picked up the pace in early December. The Elis thumped Union 5–0 and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 4–1 in their most recent conference matchups and have won eight of their past 11 games.
“I think the culture here is one where the guys want to work,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “They expect to work. They also expect to be successful and compete for championships, so I think the way things started was not anything anyone expected. I give the guys a lot of credit for being able to stick together and right the ship.”
The Saints enter ECAC play this weekend without a win in over two and a half months. One has to go back to a Nov. 9 game against Union to find the last time St. Lawrence skated off the ice victorious. Since then, the Saints have gone 0–12–1, with the Elis responsible for one of those 12 losses.
Last time out against the Saints, forward Curtis Hall ’22 continued his breakout campaign with two stellar goals — giving the star sophomore a team-high five goals on the year. Hall was not the only player to shine bright, as goalie Nick MacNab ’21, who made his collegiate career debut as starting goaltender, also earned his first win, making key stops down the stretch to give Yale the necessary breathing room to grab a 6–3 victory.
St. Lawrence has continued its downward spiral ever since, most recently coming off of back-to-back 3–1 losses at the hands of No.16 Harvard and Dartmouth. In what became a battle of the special teams — with all four goals scored during the game coming with a man-advantage — the Crimson came out victorious. Two of Harvard’s three power-play goals came during the latter half of the first period, as a third was tacked on in the second.
Against Dartmouth on Saturday, forward Callum Cusinato gave his squad a 1–0 lead in the first period with things finally looking to be on the right track for St. Lawrence. Yet, any Saint hope for that long-elusive win was quenched almost as soon as it had been kindled. Not four minutes later, and Dartmouth equalized. The Big Green took command from that point on, scoring on a St. Lawrence turnover later in the same period, and then making it a two-score cushion a frame later. Dartmouth held the Saints to just five shots on goal in the final period as the former closed out the game 3–1.
Clarkson is dedicating Friday’s game to raising Concussion Awareness through the Headway Foundation.
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