Two games, two ties and two points in the ECACHL — the number two was the theme of the weekend for the men’s hockey team.
The Bulldogs (1-1-2, 0-0-2 ECACHL) recorded a pair of draws against conference foes No. 17 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (5-2-2, 0-0-2) and Union (2-2-2, 0-0-2) on the road this weekend.
On Friday night, the Bulldogs — still missing 2006-’07 starting goalie Alec Richards ’09 — skated to a 1-1 draw against nationally-ranked RPI. Coming into the match, the Engineers had competed in seven games — with two matchups against Top 10 teams — compared to the Elis’ two games so far this season.
Yet the Bulldogs’ performance did not suggest they were any less seasoned than their opponents. Denny Kearney ’11 scored with just 29 seconds left in the first period to help the Elis capture a 1-0 lead that they would hold on to for most of the game. The rookie took a feed from forward Mark Arcobello ’10 and snapped a low shot that snuck just inside the post.
The Bulldogs held on to the 1-0 edge for most of the next two periods — until there was a pileup in front of the Yale goal with 46 seconds remaining in regulation. RPI captain Jake Morissette swiped at the loose puck and knocked it past Eli netminder Billy Blase ’10 to tie the game up.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the extra minutes, so both squads earned a point in the ECAC for the tie. The Engineers outshot the Bulldogs 32-30, but both teams were 0-2 on the power play. Blase made 31 saves — including 14 in a scoreless middle period — to earn the tie.
Head coach Keith Allain ’80 said he was pleased with the outcome of the game, particularly given that the Engineers had much more game experience than the Bulldogs.
“It was a fantastic college hockey game that had everything,” he said. “It was a hostile environment against a quality opponent that had already played seven games and had plenty more experience than us. It was a great lesson for us.”
The next night, the Bulldogs headed to Union to face the Dutchmen, with whom the Elis have gone into extra periods in four of their last five meetings. Yet again, the Bulldogs came back from a 2-1 deficit to send the game into overtime.
In the opening frame, the Dutchmen scored first, but Yale winger Broc Little ’11 answered back at 15:08 to even the score at 1-1. Little’s first goal for the Bulldogs came off the rebound from a Mike Karwoski ’09 shot.
The Dutchmen reclaimed the lead in the second period with a goal by forward Chris Potts. But the Bulldogs did not give up, and with goals by center Jean-Francois Boucher ’08 and blueliner Tom Dignard ’10, the Elis found themselves ahead for the first time all night with just under eight minutes left on the scoreboard.
“We really turned it on in the third period and realized we could outskate them,” Boucher said. “We were a little tentative through the first two periods, but I think we dominated them in the third.”
But Yale’s third-period lead was short-lived, as Union capitalized on a power-play goal to even things up less than two minutes later. Thirty-three seconds after Dignard’s lead-changing goal, defenseman Ryan Donald ’10 was called for a high-sticking penalty, giving the Dutchmen a one-man advantage.
Freshman forward Stephane Boileau buried the puck in the back of the net a minute into the power play to knot the score at three. After a fruitless overtime period, each squad walked away with its second draw of the weekend.
Blase — who played every minute between the pipes this weekend — had a career-high 34 saves against Union. He finished the weekend with 65 stops and a .942 save percentage.
The freshman class also performed well, with two of the Bulldog goals coming from rookies and seven members of the class of 2011 seeing time on the ice.
“The freshmen are looking great,” forward Matt Nelson ’09 said after opening weekend. “They have really stepped right in and you can’t tell who’s a freshman out there. They’re all contributing.”
The Bulldogs’ travel partner Brown also tied the Engineers and the Dutchmen, placing all four squads in part of a seven-way tie for third place in the conference. The Bulldogs will look to move out of that tie when they host Colgate and Cornell at Ingalls Rink next weekend.