By Alex Goldberger
Minutes before the opening face-off against Colgate Friday night at Ingalls Rink, goalie Matt Modelski ’07 led the men’s hockey team onto the ice and headed to his goal for his usual preliminaries. Facing right the entire time in his unique fashion, Modelski skated through the crease, forward and backward, scuffing up the blue ice to a more playable texture.
After 65 minutes — three regulation periods plus an overtime — that crease was considerably rougher, but the net was untouched.
Indeed, not one puck found its way past Modelski, whose 26 saves led the Bulldogs (4-19-2, 3-14-1 ECAC) to a tie with the No. 11 Red Raiders (20-8-2, 12-4-2).
While the Elis were able to hold Colgate scoreless, they allowed five goals in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss against No. 5 Cornell (18-4-3, 14-2-2).
On Friday Colgate’s Steve Silverthorn, who has stopped 92 percent of the shots he has faced this season, needed 19 saves to shut out Yale.
Modelski, who is often his own toughest critic, reserved his high praise for his teammates.
“Colgate has an under-2.00 goals-against average, so we knew it was going to be a defensive battle, and we came prepared,” Modelski said. “Everyone did a great job.”
Head coach Tim Taylor agreed with Modelski, but he amended part of his goaltender’s comment. Taylor thought the team played phenomenally — after the first period.
“We were just so fortunate to come out of that first 20 [minutes] without anything on the scoreboard,” Taylor said. “As reflected by everything but the score — the shots on goal [11-1 Colgate], the penalties — we were just indifferent as far as intensity and competitiveness goes. We really woke up in the second period.”
In that second period, Yale outshot Colgate 8-5 and dictated the tempo of the game. About five minutes into the period, center Brad Mills ’07 almost broke the tie when he redirected a great backdoor pass from linemate Christian Jensen ’06. That shot sailed just wide of the net.
Perhaps the only quality chance for the Red Raiders came when winger Jon Smyth broke in on Modelski. With defenseman Bill LeClerc ’07 draped all over him, Smyth flipped the puck past Modelski, but the shot lingered on the goal line just long enough for Modelski to corral it with his stick.
Later in the period, a big hit for the Elis turned disastrous. As Colgate was carrying the puck into the Yale zone, Mills spotted Anthony Masotto with his head down and leveled the winger soundly. The hit roused the home crowd, but it sent Mills to the bench with a knee injury. The Bulldogs’ leading scorer missed Saturday night’s game and will be reevaluated this week.
Yale and Colgate each had chances in the third period, but nothing would be resolved. With just under seven minutes remaining in the game, as both teams changed lines, Colgate defenseman Justin Spencer held the puck behind his net. As he waited for a breakout lane, Yale did not pressure. The players and crowd seemed to take a collective breath, regrouping for the dramatic conclusion.
There would be none. The game would end in a scoreless tie, an outstanding performance for Yale but still not a win.
After the game, captain Nick Shalek ’05, who drew a penalty in the second period and logged several key minutes in the third, was all smiles.
“They’re a tough team to play,” Shalek said. “They’re a pretty strong team defensively. We’re really proud about the last two periods we played.”
Yale could not continue the momentum, however. Facing a red-hot team and perhaps an even better goalie than the night before, Cornell jumped out to an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the first period.
“Cornell is a tough team to play, because you can’t give them much,” Taylor said. “We knew all weekend long that we needed low scoring. To go down 3-1 after one period was too big of a hill to climb.”
Forwards Jean-Francois Boucher ’08 and Nate Jackson ’06 were able to get shots past David McKee, who leads the ECAC in save percentage and goals-against average, but Yale fell 5-2 as Cornell extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games, the longest in the nation.
For the Bulldogs, it was hardly a bad weekend. Although they fell to the Big Red, the Elis can take solace in a draw with Colgate, the second-best team in the conference.
“It was a very hard-earned point,” Taylor said. “I’m certainly proud of them.”