Series Record: 79-58-5
Saturday, March 2
Friday, January 25, 2013
The last time that the Bulldogs and the Big Red met, Cornell lost a nationally televised and hotly contested game to the Elis in overtime at Lynah Rink. Cornell began the game very determined with impressive generation of offense. It took Cornell less than two minutes for sophomore forward Ferlin to best Eli goaltender Malcolm to put the Big Red ahead of the visitors from New Haven. Regulation would continue with each team exchanging goals until 60 minutes elapsed with the game knotted at 2-2. The most notable save of the game was not made by Iles for anyone who has had the opportunity to watch the broadcast from NBC Sports. Junior defenseman Gotovets lunged in front of a Bulldog blast from the point and blocked a shot that seemed bound to beat Iles as he was committed left when the puck was coming from the right. Cornell put extreme pressure on Yale and it seemed that McCarron cashed in on a dirty goal to win in overtime, but it was Yale that scored just under halfway through the bonus frame and upended a valiant effort from the Big Red.
The Elis entered the season with the benefit of little expectations. Yale was a complete season removed from its trip to the NCAA Tournament as the overall first seed when the 2012-13 season began. An unceremonious exit at the hands of the Bulldogs's unreciprocated rival in the 2012 ECAC Quarterfinals in three games helped set the bar very low for Yale when the season began.
Yale began to turn heads the weekend that Cornell hosted Michigan at the inaugural Frozen Apple in New York City. The Connecticut-based Ivy ventured to the Mountain Timezone over that span. It returned home with victories over Colorado College and Denver. The college hockey world began to realize that this Yale squad was not one with which to trifle.
Yale is very talented and unquestionably is well coached. The Bulldogs nevertheless have registered only a 2-6-0 mark since they wrested a hard-fought victory from Cornell. Yale managed to sweep Princeton over that span, but recorded losses against Brown, Colgate, Quinnipiac, RPI, and Union. The Capital District swept Yale both home and away.
The less-than-stellar record cannot be considered in isolation. Allain, Yale's head coach, has emphasized the importance of goaltender Malcolm to the mental and tactical stability of this season's Bulldogs. Malcolm was injured against Princeton on February 1, 2013 when Princeton forward Ammon ran Malcolm. The Yale goaltender needed to leave the game.
Yale went on to defeat Princeton that evening, but they would not win again until the rematch between the Tigers and Bulldogs. The Elis went on a five-game losing skid during which the offensively minded team never tallied more than two goals and was shut out once. They surrendered four or six goals during that skid on all but one occasion.
The correlation between Malcolm's presence between the pipes and Yale's goal scoring seems counterintuitive, but it seems more than coincidental. It is apparent that he brings more to Yale than just reliable goaltending. Malcolm returned to Yale's lineup last Saturday against Princeton. Yale won 4-3.
Yale has maintained a respective power-play unit that opponents must respect even during Yale's most recent slump. Yale's power-play unit is ranked 15th in college hockey. The Bulldogs's penalty killing has suffered recently. Yale allows its opponents to convert on 18.3% of their power-play opportunities. Malcolm allowed opponents to score three or more goals on just five occasions in 19 games played before his injury. Malcolm in his first game back allowed Princeton to tally three goals. He recorded only a 0.850 in his first game back last weekend.
Keys to the Game:
The agony of this game may be having to battle back against a very solid Yale team that Cornell was on the verge of beating just weeks ago. Yale does most things very well. Cornell cannot count on Yale's goal-scoring drought to continue when the Big Red visits Ingalls Rinks. The return of Malcolm for the Bulldogs clearly has quantifiable and intangible effect upon this Yale team. Cornell will need to deliver an effort at least as good as it did against Yale at Lynah to improve the chances of Cornell leaving Ingalls with a win on Yale's senior night.
A slight defensive lapse for Cornell in overtime led to the opportunity that Yale converted to defeat Cornell in February. The good news? The Cornell team that left Dartmouth and Harvard with three points and swept RPI and Union last weekend has been playing with a soundness and confidence that had been lacking since Cornell's first game against RPI. Cornell is not afraid and it is apparent from the net to the front three.
Iles produced a respectable 0.912 save percentage against the Bulldogs in Cornell's last clash against the canine Ivy. Last weekend, Iles recorded a 0.956 save percentage over the weekend. The loss to Yale earlier in the season was not Iles's fault. However, as a reflection of how stellar his play was last weekend, had Iles registered the same save percentage against Yale as he did last weekend against the pair from the Capital District, Cornell would have defeated Yale 2-1 in regulation.
The offensive skills of Cornell cannot be overlooked. Two forwards last weekend had four or more points on the weekend. The skills of Miller and Ferlin likely will be key to enhancing Cornell's chances at leaving Ingalls with a victory. The recent offensive outburst has been a team effort. Seven different Cornell players have scored goals since the Big Red's win over Dartmouth.
The Big Red's offense has outplayed even among the most talented netminders in the league. Cornell has reduced goaltenders of its opponent to earning a save percentage of only 0.888 over the last four games while the goaltenders that Cornell has faced over that span enjoy an average save percentage over the season of 0.921. Malcolm's save percentage of 0.915 is below that of the average goaltender whom Cornell has confronted in the last four games and worse than both individual save percentages of Kasdorf and Grosenick from last weekend.
The most alarming deviation from previous weeks last weekend was the number of penalties called on Cornell. Yes, some of the penalties were frail. Cornell overcame the sometimes uneven officiating. However, it will be dangerous to allow Yale's power-play unit to take the ice too many times on Saturday. Yale's power-play unit is better than its national statistics, especially when its confidence likely will have returned with Malcolm behind the blue line. Discipline will be key against the Bulldogs.
Cornell's penalty killing will need to remain at the impressively high level that it has attained recently. Cornell killed off 90.9% of the power-play opportunities from which RPI and Union benefited last weekend. This team has killed off 80-85% of penalties that it has faced in recent weeks. It will need to do the same to keep a hungry Bulldog squad that wants victory on senior night at bay.
The keys to the game seem holistic. That is likely a product of the unpredictability of the effect of Malcolm's return on Yale as well as the convincing manner in which Cornell defeated RPI and Union last weekend. Cornell's chances are best if Iles can continue to maintain his heightened level of play while Cornell's forwards and offensively-minded defensemen continue to generate and convert with confidence their many opportunities.
Lynah and Ingalls Rinks are two of the venues whose fanbases that occupy them throughout the collegiate hockey season regard with almost sacred reverence. Lynah Rink with aura of history and the intimidation of the Faithful gives Cornell a decided home-ice advantage. Ingalls Rink has been home to Yale teams that have enjoyed a statistical advantage in winning in recent seasons when playing in front of the home crowd. The advantage of Cornell and Yale teams playing at home was not present when the buildings were in their nascence. Both Cornell and Yale lost to the first varsity-level program that they hosted at their respective venue. Cornell won the first collegiate game at Lynah against Lehigh Club while Yale lost the first collegiate game that the Bulldogs hosted at Ingalls 4-3 to Northeastern.
Let the video below serve as a travel advisory for those members of the Lynah Faithful who will travel to Ingalls Rink. The video is far from new, but it is too good not to share. It highlights the many things that are lacking with Yale (and Harvard for that matter).