Yale made its first trip out of the Eastern Time Zone in just over two years a successful one.
The Bulldogs returned to New Haven with a pair of overtime wins, knocking off then-No. 2 Denver 2-1 last Friday and then beating then-No. 14 Colorado College 6-5 the following night.
“First off, I think it tells you that the guys have done a heck of a job with their strength and conditioning,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “We played two teams that are used to playing in the altitude. The second night, I thought we were better in the third period than we were in the second.”
Jeff Malcolm was on the spot Friday against the Pioneers but struggled against Colorado College Saturday, giving up five goals on 25 shots before giving way to Nick Maricic, who stopped all nine shots he saw for the win.
The two split time last season, but Malcolm has been getting the majority of time so far this year. Last year’s team was a bit top-heavy in the scoring department as well. Yale’s top four scorers combined for 61 of the team’s 123 goals, but the Bulldogs got eight goals from eight different skaters last weekend, while also dressing seven defenseman Saturday after forward Clinton Bourbonais sat out after getting a game misconduct Friday.
“It was a total team effort and that’s what we’re going to need,” Allain said.
Despite getting relieved Saturday, Malcolm has started six of the eight Bulldogs games this season after splitting time with Maricic for much of the last three years, with the notable exception of Ryan Rondeau’s breakout campaign in 2010.
Whoever is in net for the Bulldogs should benefit from the infusion of talent on the back end in the form of freshman Ryan Obuchowski, Mitch Witek and Rob O’Gara, a Boston Bruins draft pick.
“All three guys have logged considerable minutes,” Allain said. “I think we’re more solid on the blue line right now than last year.”
While the past weekend may have opened some eyes across the country, the Bulldogs have been fairly consistent in the early going, having avoided back-to-back losses.
It’s hard to call a Frozen Four team and a team expected to compete for a first-round bye unheralded, but that just might be what Union and Quinnipiac have been so far.
While teams such as Yale, Dartmouth and St. Lawrence have drawn attention due to their hot starts, the Dutchmen and Bobcats have been quietly going about their business, losing just one game apiece over the last month.
Maybe it’s because they’re not playing big-name opponents like the previously mentioned teams. Take nothing away from the Dutchmen or Bobcats, but wins over Penn State or Providence don’t quite draw the attention that a win over Denver or Western Michigan would.
Or maybe it’s because each team has one game that you can look at and shake your head — be it Quinnipiac’s 2-1 loss to American International at home on Nov. 6 or Union’s 2-2 tie at Connecticut on Oct. 27.
Both teams have dealt with injuries in the early going. Goalie Troy Grosenick returned Sunday for the Dutchmen, while captain Mat Bodie is still out after breaking his wrist Nov. 2 against Rensselaer. Forward Connor Jones has played in just over half of the Bobcats’ games this season, while Tampa Bay draft pick Matthew Peca hasn’t played since a 5-2 win over Clarkson on Nov. 17.
Regardless, both have done what good teams do when injuries strike: keep rolling. Their steady play might not be putting them in the spotlight now, but there’s a good chance that it will down the road. The ECAC has proven itself to be a league full of surprises over the season’s first two months, but last year’s top teams made it to Atlantic City, proving that there’s something to be said for consistency.
Around the league
Brown: Talk about night and day for the Bears. Brown was thumped 7-0 Saturday by Providence, but eked out a 3-2 win over Holy Cross Sunday. The top line of Garnet Hathaway, Matt Lorita and Ryan Jacobson combined for six points in the win.
Clarkson: Are the Golden Knights this year’s Harvard? When it comes to ties, they might be. The Crimson set a national record with 11 ties in 34 games last year. Clarkson has five ties in 12 games so far this season, most in the country.
Colgate: Freshman Spencer Finney has started the last two games in net for the Raiders, going 1-0-1. He has stopped 51 of 52 shots since relieving senior Eric Mihalik Nov. 16 against Dartmouth.
Cornell: The Big Red posted their first Frozen Apple win at Madison Square Garden, roughing up a struggling Michigan team. You could argue this isn’t even their most impressive win over the Big Blue in 2012 — Cornell knocked Michigan out of the Midwest Regional in overtime last March.
Dartmouth: The league announced this week that the Big Green’s game against former travel partner Vermont next Wednesday will be televised on NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m. EST. Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire will be on the call.
Harvard: It’s going to be a quiet few weeks for the Crimson, as they’ll play just three games between now and Jan. 1, all against Hockey East opponents.
Princeton: Andrew Ammon became the first Tigers player in 22 years to score four goals in a game, pulling off the feat last Friday against Sacred Heart. Friday’s output matched his production in 24 games all of last season.
Rensselaer: The Engineers are the lone team without a point in ECAC play. They’ll try to break that streak this weekend at home against Princeton and Quinnipiac.
St. Lawrence: A video commemorating the career of former coach Joe Marsh is now online. Titled “A Lasting Legacy,” it’s narrated by former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw and can be viewed by clicking here.
Players of the week
As selected by the conference:
Player of the week — Andrew Ammon, Princeton: The junior forward scored four goals in Princeton’s 4-3 win over Sacred Heart Friday. He’s the seventh player in the program’s 109-year history to reach that mark.
Rookie of the week — Stu Wilson, Yale: Wilson, the son of Rochester Institute of Technology coach Wayne Wilson, had a short-handed goal at Denver Friday and had the primary assist on Josh Balch’s overtime winner at Colorado College Saturday.
Goalie of the week — Andy Iles, Cornell: Iles made 26 saves against Michigan on Saturday, and has helped the Big Red kill off 13 straight penalties.
USCHO covers the ECAC all week long on the ECAC Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.