MEN’S ICE HOCKEY: Elis turn season around over winter recess
The Yale men’s ice hockey team started off the New Year on the right foot, tallying two wins against Army and RPI and three ties with Merrimack, Vermont and Union.
The Yale men’s ice hockey team (3–10–0, 2–8–2 ECAC) turned their season around with their return to the ice in 2023.
The Bulldogs added two wins to their record, one against Army (7–12–3, 6–7–1 AHA) on Jan. 2 and the other against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (8–14–1, 3–9–0 ECAC) on Jan. 13. Yale avoided an outright loss in the rest of their play over the past two weeks, tallying ties against No. 11 Merrimack College (15–7–1, 8–4–1 HEA) and University of Vermont (7–13–2, 2–10–0 HEA) and a shootout loss against Union College (8–13–2, 3–8–1 ECAC) on Jan. 14.
“I think we have seen real growth with our group over the last number of games,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “This is a result of their hard work, intensity in practice and attention to detail in games.”
The Blue and White’s win against Army was their first since Oct. 29, the first game of the season, where Yale defeated Brown (7–10–2, 3–7–2 ECAC) 2–0. Forward Cole Donhauser ’23 added three goals against the Black Knights, one 4:53 into the first period, another 3:52 into the second and the last with 1:11 remaining in the game, marking his first career hat trick.
Forward David Chen ’26 and defenseman Bayard Hall ’26 each added a goal during the match, raising the final score to 5–1. Goalkeeper Luke Pearson ’25, who was named ECAC Co-Goaltender of the Week on Jan. 16, blocked 22 shots on goal for the Bulldogs.
“We played a lot of the game in their end, creating offense which helped us put up five goals and not really give them a chance to come back,” forward Ryan Stevens ’24 said.
The Elis then traveled to North Andover, Massachusetts to play Merrimack. Under two minutes into the game, forward Ian Carpentier ’24 tallied Yale’s first point and his first goal of the season. Merrimack, however, responded quickly to even the score.
Carpentier scored again 1:39 into the second frame off of an assist by forward Reilly Connors ’24, and Donhauser secured Yale’s third point nearly eight minutes later. Merrimack’s offense evened the score by the end of the third period, sending the game into overtime in a 3–3 deadlock.
“Obviously, we have lots of room for additional improvement and the team is fully committed to doing what is necessary to be the best we can be each and every day,” Allain said. “Their focus and drive will provide the fuel for us as we strive to win more games in the ECAC.”
The overtime period remained scoreless, and the game ended in a tie. Pearson had another strong performance with 36 saves in the cage.
The Bulldogs added another non-conference tie to their record in their 1–1 game against Vermont. Forward Briggs Gammill ’25 added Yale’s one and only goal of the game in the first period off the rebound of a shot by forward Niklas Allain ’24. The Catamounts, however, managed to score with less than one minute remaining in the first period, and the following two periods and overtime were scoreless.
“I think our team has done a great job of dealing with adversity and staying positive through a tough stretch in the beginning of the year,” Gammill said. “With that, it has helped us take steps forward at the start of 2023.”
Although the Blue and White prevailed 2–1 in a penalty shootout after the overtime period, the game still counts as a tie due to non-conference overtime rules. Pearson made 31 stops in goal over the course of the game.
The Elis added another win the next Friday, dominating RPI 4–1. Assisted by Gammill, defenseman Connor Sullivan ’25 scored on the power play 11:59 into the first frame. The Engineers evened the score early in the second period, but defenseman Brandon Tabakin ’23 notched Yale’s second goal with 18.7 seconds left in the frame to propel Yale back in front.
“We’re playing much better hockey than we were at the start of the year, and our group is excited about getting better and better each game,” Stevens said. “Everyone’s showing up to the rink with a good attitude and working towards competing for championships.”
The Bulldogs scored twice more in the final frame. Connors scored the first at 10:28 after intercepting a pass by an Engineer defender, and forward Quinton Ong ’23 scored off another mistake by the opposing defense at 11:08. Pearson saved 26 of 27 shots on goal during the contest, continuing his stretch of strong play.
In their most recent game, the Blue and White drew with Union in a scoreless game. While Union slipped the puck into the net in the third period, a penalty caused the goal to be discounted.
The match had a scoreless overtime, and the Dutchmen managed to leave the shootout with a 1–0 advantage. Pearson saved all 23 attempts he faced during the contest, and Carpentier, Gammill and Donhauser each had four shots.
“I think we are just going to keep with the plan and what’s working,” Stevens noted. “Make sure we play to our systems because we know when we do that, we’re a hard team to beat.”
Pearson had a .980 save rate with 49 saves in the Bulldogs’ two most recent games.
The Yale men’s ice hockey team looks forward to continuing to add to the win column over the next few weeks of their season and into Eastern College Athletic Conference play.
“I think we will prepare this week like any other week,” Gammill said. “We understand these are two big games coming up, but our mentality doesn’t change.”
The Elis will face the No. 9 Harvard University (12–4–1, 10–2–0 ECAC) on Friday and Dartmouth College (2–15–1, 1–9–1 ECAC) on Saturday, both at Ingalls Rink. Both pucks are slated to drop at 7 p.m.