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For almost 600 days, Ingalls Rink had been deprived of the roars of Bulldogs fans, the slamming of the boards and the distinct blaring of the goal horn. On Friday night, the Whale will finally serve as the stage for the long-awaited return of Yale men’s ice hockey (0–1–0, 0–1–0 ECAC)

After dropping their first contest of the season to Brown on the road, the Blue and White will now host ECAC foes Quinnipiac (5–1–2, 0–0–0) and Princeton (0–1–0, 0–0–0). The Elis had quickly jumped back into college hockey despite being away from competition ice for so long. While Yale’s hard-working style of play generated numerous scoring opportunities, the Bears managed to secure victory after lighting the lamp twice through the first 37 minutes of play.

For over half of the skaters on the Bulldog’s roster, pulling on the blue and white sweater for the first time was something they had long anticipated. Sophomore defenseman Ryan Conroy ’24 explained to the News the sense of gratitude and relief he experienced after dressing for his first game. 

“Getting the opportunity to finally play with my brothers and play the game that we all love was an amazing feeling,” Conroy said. “[It’s] something that I’ll be able to hold on to for the rest of my life.” 

Fresh off a 2–1 win over American International College on home ice last weekend, the Quinnipiac Bobcats will head down from Hamden to renew their rivalry with Yale in the season’s first installment of the Battle of Whitney Avenue. 

Unlike the Bulldogs, the Bobcats embarked on their 2021-22 campaign early in October with an appearance in the Ice Breaker Tournament alongside Boston College and Northeastern. After tying with the Eagles and blanking the Huskies, Quinnipiac went on to face four other non-conference competitors, taking home the victory in four out of six contests. 

Since Quinnipiac’s move to the ECAC in 2006, the two Connecticut squads have become one of the most recognizable rivalries in the conference. After going head-to-head in the playoffs four times, the Bulldogs were set to clash with the Bobcats for a fifth time in the 2020 ECAC quarterfinals before its cancellation. 

“I think [it] will be great to get into the rivalries right away,” defenseman and Greenwich, Connectut native Ryan Carmichael ’23 told the News. “I know all of the guys are really excited to work… we want to win games and I think we’ve got a group that can do it.”

After battling the Bobcats on Friday, the Blue and White will lace up their skates again the next day. Following their first conference match against Brown, Princeton will head up to New Haven. Saturday night will mark the first meeting between the Tigers and Bulldogs since the Feb. 28 match of last year — Yale’s penultimate contest of the 2019-20 season where the Blue and White secured a come-from-behind 2–1 victory. Heading into Saturday’s matchup, the Elis have a program record of 25–10–2 against Princeton since 2004.

As the Elis get set to welcome back in-person spectators, the excitement continues to ramp up for the new faces on the Bulldogs’ bench who have yet to witness the liveliness of a weekend home game in Ingalls Rink.

It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve played a meaningful hockey game in front of a home crowd so I can’t wait to see the Whale full of fans,” first-year defenseman Kieran O’Hearn ’25 said. “A big draw to college hockey for me was the atmosphere at the games so I’m really looking forward to experiencing it first hand.”

In prior years, the Yale men’s hockey games have regularly amassed more than 1000 spectators, with their last home opener drawing a crowd of 2200. 

Despite restrictions that limit capacity to 75 percent this year, Conroy is confident that the student body will continue to show their enthusiasm and encouragement. 

“I know that Yale students are going to come out— they’re going to support us, be loud and give us that home-ice advantage that everyone always wants to experience,” Conroy said. “We’re ready to put on a show for everyone.” 

The puck is set to drop at Ingalls Rink at 7 p.m on both Friday and Saturday.

Trisha Nguyen covers men's ice hockey and field hockey as a staff reporter. Originally from St. Louis, she is a sophomore in Saybrook College majoring in molecular, cellular and developmental biology.