Defeat at the hands of Dartmouth last Thursday afternoon may have dampened the Yardling puckmens' spirits and added a second defeat to their record, but it doesn't change Clark Hodder's opinion that this year's team is the best he has had since 1936.
So far, the cubs have had an enviable record of 13 wins, dropping only the Dartmouth game and a tilt with St. Paul's last December. The schoolboys, according to Hodder, are not a fair estimate of the team's strength, for they are all fast skaters and play a different brand of hockey from average Freshmen.
What the Yale team will look like when it comes to town next Saturday for the last game of the season, is an unknown quantity, but the Hoddermen should stand more than a fair chance of coming out on top. The Elis have a strong first line, which should push Woody Redmond, Marc Beebe, and Dave Burton to the limit, but the rest of their aggregation is below par, weak in defense and the nets.
The clash between the first lines should be exciting, but is it in the reserves that the Crimson expects to show its strength. Nearly equal to the first line in scoring ability, the second trio, made up of Olie Taylor, Al Evarts, and Woody Redmond has been outstanding all year for its teamwork, and should be able to push over a few goals at Yale's expense.
Although the Indians were not favored to win what was generally predicted to be a close fight, they were able to put one too many past the Crimson. The Yardling defense, hard pressed after a wrenched knee retired Captain Al Reeves, fell before their attack.
The '44 defense men are almost sure to be better than the Ells if Captain Reeves can take the ice, but if he is still benched on Saturday, they will have an uphill fight. Pete Truesdale and Len Cummings, regular replacements at defense for Reeves and Cowen, are both out of the picture because of marks, and Freshman Coach Skeets Canterbury may have to move Marc Beebe back, weakening the forward wall.
Aside from the doubt about Reeves, who is at present well on the road to recovery, the team will go against the Blue unchanged, with a third line that shows much of the stuff that the others have. It was the third line, sparked by Lyman Bullard, that tallied the only Crimson goal against Dartmouth.
Veteran Goalie Steve O'Neill will mind the nets for the yearlings and, judging by past performances and Hodder's forecasts, is set to outperform his Eli rival. The relative ability of the two teams in the cage will go a long way towards deciding the game.
Comparative scoring against other teams doesn't give much of a clue to the six's chance of handing Yale the short end, for in its tilts with Princeton and Mount St. Charles, both rivals managed to win by an equal number of goals.
If the Yardling's second line comes through as it has in the past, and if Captain Reeves is well enough to swing a stick, the 1944 pucksters can look foreward to adding Yale to their string of victims. But if they are without Reeves, and have to count on a less reliable defense, it will be anyone's game.