Yale Athletics

The Yale men’s ice hockey team (1–4–0, 1–4–0 ECAC) fell to Princeton (2–1–1, 2–1–1 ECAC) 5–4 in overtime on Friday and lost 5–2 to Quinnipiac (7–3–1, 3–0–1 ECAC) on Saturday, but in both games, the Bulldogs showed perseverance and grit. 

For head coach Keith Allain, there were several positive takeaways from both nights.

“Our team stuck together and fought to come back in both of those games, eventually tying the game at Princeton before falling in overtime,” Allain told the News. “The resiliency and mental toughness displayed is something we can build on. We generated a good amount of scoring chances in each game – which is also a positive sign.”

On Friday night, the Elis traveled down to New Jersey and matched up against Princeton in the Tigers 2023-24 home opener at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink. First-year Tiger Kai Daniells opened the scoring at the 2:48 mark in the first period after he found a loose puck in a scramble in front of the Yale net and put it past goaltender Nathan Reid ’24. About five minutes later, Princeton capitalized on the game’s first power play with a backdoor one-timer off of a great pass from below the goal line. The Tigers had come into the night three for eight on the season on the man advantage, and they highlighted that strength early on.  

However, the Bulldogs bounced right back with two quick goals. David Andreychuk ’27 found David Chen ’26 streaking down the right wing, and Chen flew past the Tiger D-man and sniped the Princeton goalie high blocker side. Seven seconds later, first year Yalie Rhys Bentham ’27 continued his offensive hot streak with an absolute rocket that beat Princeton’s tender from the high slot.

In the second, Princeton converted once again on the power play in another low to high passing play that ended with a one timer from in close. They tallied another goal late in the second to make it a 4–2 game going into the third.

Yet the Bulldogs would not be deterred. Instead of going quietly, they came out firing after the second intermission and first year Iisai Pesonen ’27 buried a great fake-shot pass from Teddy Wooding ’24 to halve the Princeton lead. Bayard Hall ’26 tied the game when his point shot  found the back of the net with ten minutes left in the period.

Regulation ended with both teams knotted up at four apiece. When overtime began, the Tigers stepped up their game and took control, and senior forward Adam Robbins sealed a Princeton win when he danced past a couple Yale players and beat Reid backhand side with four seconds remaining in overtime.

Although Princeton’s power play ended up being the key differentiator between two very comparable squads, Yale’s man-up unit, while failing to put points on the board, did have a plethora of high-quality chances. Their puck movement and control were also impressive at times.

“It feels like they are really close,” Allain told the News. “I still believe we can put more shots on net and do a better job on our offensive zone entries. We are working on these things daily, and we should begin to see the results of those efforts in games.”

The following night, the Elis traveled back to the state of Connecticut to take on a top-ranked Quinnipiac team in the “War on Whitney.” The seventh–ranked Bobcats came out hot in front of a raucous sold-out crowd. But, Yale settled into the game, and did a good job of limiting Quinnipiac’s high-powered offense in the first period. 

Five minutes into the second, first year Bobcat Andon Cerbone opened the scoring on the power play, beating Nathan Reid high blocker side after a cross–ice seam pass from Quinnipiac star Collin Graf. Quinnipiac captain Jayden Lee doubled the lead when he walked the blue line and threaded the puck through heavy traffic in front. On a five on three power play, the Bobcats went up by three.

But, yet again, Yale refused to go away, and it was the Yale power play that got the Bulldogs on the board. After drawing a nasty cross checking penalty but popping right up, junior defenseman Connor Sullivan ’25 fired a seeing-eye shot from the point, with Nik Allain ’24 screening in front.

In the third, Yale began the period with a shutdown penalty kill and followed that up with a hardworking shift that ended with another defenseman, Ryan Conroy ’24, putting one past the Bobcat goalie.

In the end, Quinnipiac scored two more goals and sealed a 5–2 victory. 

Over the course of the weekend, special teams were definitely a deciding factor. However, by the end of the Quinnipiac game, both the Yale penalty kill and power play looked to have found their groove. Late in the game, Sullivan scored on the man advantage, and the kill looked formidable, as they were able to shut down a potent Quinnipiac power play multiple times. For Allain, the kill can keep getting even better.

“Our penalty kill can become a strength of our team,” said Allain. “As we get deeper into our season, I expect to see those individual breakdowns lessen and our success rate increase.”

Ultimately, while Yale struggled to exit their zone cleanly at times, and has struggled on occasion to put up goals in bunches, the team’s character is unquestionable. 

The Elis clawed back in both games, and that is a clear positive to carry them through the rest of the long season.

“We are close to earning victory in these games and with our guys’ continued work ethic and greater attention to detail we will break through,” Allain said to the News.

The Bulldogs will be back in action this weekend with two games at Ingalls. They play St. Lawrence (3–6–1, 1–1–0 ECAC) on Friday night and Clarkson University  (4–5–0, 1–1–0 ECAC) on Saturday.

Tommy Gannon covers men's ice hockey. He is a first-year in Branford college majoring in history and economics.