When you amass 53 minutes of penalties in one weekend and fail to score on all but one of your 18 power play opportunities, it’s not easy to win.
Such was the case for the men’s hockey team (6-4-1, 3-3 ECACHL) this weekend as it fell to league foes Clarkson (10-5-1, 4-2) and St. Lawrence (8-5-0, 5-1) at Ingalls Rink. After a tough 4-1 loss to the Golden Knights in a penalty-ridden game Friday night, the Bulldogs kept out of the box against St. Lawrence but still could not generate enough offense to overcome the 5-2 deficit.
Friday night was not the best showing for the Eli special teams, which gave up a season-high four power play goals on nine chances. After a scoreless opening period, things quickly spiraled downhill. Within 24 seconds of one another, Chris Cahill ’10 received a major penalty and Jean-Francois Boucher ’08 received a minor, leaving room for the Clarkson offense to tally two quick goals with a two-man advantage. The Golden Knights momentarily widened their lead to three near the end of the period, but the Elis answered back when forward Mark Arcobello ’10 sent the puck into the back of the net off a rebound from teammate Sean Backman’s ’10 shot.
Early in the third, Clarkson tallied another goal with a two-man advantage. Despite five power play opportunities of their own, the Bulldogs were unable to get on the board again, succumbing to the Saints, 4-1.
“Besides penalties, I thought we played really well,” forward Mike Karwoski ’09 said. “Even-strength, we actually beat them, 1-0. We played our systems correctly like Coach Allain wanted us to, and if it wasn’t for the penalties, I think that game could have gone another way.”
Yale is the highest-penalized team in the ECACHL in minutes per game, and this is not the first time that special teams play has been the deciding factor in a loss. In five-on-five situations, the squad showed promise, and netminder Alec Richards ’09, who had 25 saves on the night, did not let up a single goal.
“I don’t think [Richards] really could have done much about any of those goals,” captain Matt Cohen ’07 said. “It was a tough situation for him and for the team, being down that many guys that many times.”
On Saturday night, although the Bulldogs denied St. Lawrence on all three power play opportunities, the Saints capitalized on 89 seconds of Bulldog weakness in the second period to build up a three-goal lead from which the Elis could not recover.
In the first, the St. Lawrence offense — the third best in the ECACHL — put pressure on the Eli blueliners. Although Richards made 13 impressive stops, the Saints broke through at 16:05 when freshman forward Mike McKenzie sent a low shot past Richards on the ice.
Leading scorer Backman converted a perfect feed from Boucher to tie the score at 1-1 early in the second, but the potent St. Lawrence offense was not finished. Sophomore forward Casey Parenteau put the puck in the back of the net off a rebound at 15:01 to break the tie. Less than two minutes later, the Saints had a 4-1 lead in hand after a string of quick goals.
Although defenseman Bill LeClerc ’07 added a goal for the Elis in the beginning of the third, the Saints also put one on the board, maintaining a three-goal margin for their fourth-consecutive victory over the Bulldogs.
“It caught us off-guard because we had been playing really well,” Karwoski said. “When the [second and third goals] popped in also, the team morale sank really quickly. But I thought we played a better game after that. We got ourselves back together and I think we turned it around.”
Despite the lopsided score, there were several bright spots for the Elis on Saturday. After receiving 45 minutes of penalty time against Clarkson, the squad spent just eight minutes in the box the entire game.
Billy Blase ’10 also made his debut in goal in the third, after head coach Keith Allain ’80 decided to give Richards a break for the first time this season. Blase came up with eight saves, including several difficult stops against the powerful St. Lawrence forward line.
“[Billy] played awesome,” forward Matt Nelson ’09 said. “He’s been working really hard in practice, and he was ready to step in there and did a great job. Our team is really confident in either goalie that’s in the net for us.”
As the weekend was not a particularly successful one, the squad has plenty to work on before next weekend’s match against Brown. As the Elis look ahead to their last league game of 2006, they hope to break their three-game losing streak and get back on track.
“It never feels good to lose,” Cohen said. “I think we worked hard, but we just made some mental mistakes that you just can’t have and didn’t get the job done. The guys are trying their hardest, we just have to bear down, focus more and take care of the little details.”