The Yale hockey team is learning that the downside of winning a national championship is that there are no easy games the following season.
The Bulldogs (3-1-2) have been up to the test early this season, as they have done nothing to hurt their stock as a potential NCAA tournament team in the opening month. Last weekend, Yale became only the second team all season to take at least a point from Quinnipiac (9-1-1).
Many champion teams have found that the lifeblood of a title defender is an infusion of new talent. Yale has received a boost from its freshman class, and in particular, rookies Mike Doherty (Reading, Mass.) and Frankie DiChiara (Ronkonkoma, N.Y.).
Against Quinnipiac, DiChiara scored Yale's second goal to tie the score at 2-2 late in the second period. Just 22 seconds later, Doherty added a go-ahead goal, giving the Bulldogs an unexpected boost from players who watched last year's national championship game on TV.
"The guys on the team have been awesome," Doherty said. "They made us feel comfortable from the get-go."
Doherty followed Yale's postseason run last spring on TV. He entered an NCAA Hockey Tournament pool among friends, and he was the only one to pick Yale to win a game, let alone the national championship.
"At first, I was so excited to get on the ice with these guys at practice," Doherty said. "They I realized every day is so intense. Everyone is trying to get in the lineup for games. Everything is so fast. I'm just trying to think quick and get used to it every day."
Player of the Week
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence, Sr. forward
Carey extended his scoring streak to five games and helped the Saints to a weekend sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth. He scored the game-winning goal against Harvard and added a goal and three assists against Dartmouth. Carey leads ECAC Hockey in scoring with 2.75 points per game. He ranks second in the country in scoring with six goals and 13 assists.
Game of the Week
Cornell at Clarkson, Friday, 7 p.m.
Contrasting styles clash. The Big Red's power play ranks sixth in the country with a 28.1 percent conversion rate. Clarkson is ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense (2.00 GPG).
1. Quinnipiac (9-1-1, 3-0-1): Here we go again. The Bobcats have a nation-leading 10-game unbeaten streak after posting an NCAA-best 21-game unbeaten streak last season.
2. Yale (3-1-2, 2-0-2): The Bulldogs have to be pleased with a 3-3 tie against Quinnipiac Saturday night in a rematch of the national championship game. In a November rematch, one would think last year's runner-up would have more to play for.
3. Clarkson (9-2-1, 3-1-0): The Knights picked up their first weekend sweep on the road in nearly three years with a pair of one-goal victories against Harvard and Dartmouth.
4. St. Lawrence (6-2-2, 2-0-2): The Saints may have the best pair of forwards in the conference in senior All-American Greg Carey, the ECAC Player of the Week; and younger brother Matt Carey, the ECAC Rookie of Week.
5. RPI (6-2-2, 2-1-2): Junior Ryan Haggerty (Stamford, Conn.) added to his nation-leading goal tally with two more Saturday in a 6-2 win over Colgate, giving him 13 for the season.
6. Union (4-3-2, 3-1-0): Weird weekend for the Dutchmen, who fell to Colgate 5-3 on Friday night before shutting out Cornell 3-0 on Saturday. We can assume Union will pick its spots until the calendar turns to 2014.
7. Cornell (3-2-1, 1-2-1): One potential concern for the Big Red: They have been shut out twice in their last three games -- with the losses coming against the recent ECAC Hockey powerhouses, Quinnipiac and Union.
8. Brown (3-3-1, 1-2-1): The Bears fell to UNH Tuesday night in a midweek battle that pitted Brown assistant and UNH alumnus Mike Souza against his former college coach, Dick Umile.
9. Colgate (4-6-1, 2-2-0): The Red Raiders need to tighten up in their defensive zone. In their six losses, they have allowed a total of 35 goals.
10. Harvard (2-3-1, 1-3-1): The Crimson's promising start to the season was sidetracked when they failed to pick up a point in a home set last weekend against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
11. Princeton (1-6-0, 0-4-0): The Tigers played the preseason No. 1 team in the nation, UMass Lowell, tough on Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss at home.
12. Dartmouth (0-6-0, 0-4-0): It's getting late early for the Big Green, who had a lot to say about earning a first-round bye in this year's ECAC Hockey tournament before the start of the season.