ALBANY, N.Y. — With a 3-2 lead and only 1:34 remaining in the first ECAC tournament semifinal, No. 14 St. Lawrence looked poised to spoil the men’s hockey team’s run at its first-ever ECAC tournament championship – and in doing so remain the only ECAC team the Elis have not defeated this season.
But with one timeout and 28 seconds of play, everything changed. In a stunning comeback, Yale scored two goals in under a minute late in the third period on Friday to beat St. Lawrence, 4-3, and advance to its first ECAC championship game.
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The Elis will now face No. 9 Cornell, which defeated No. 8 Princeton in double overtime, 4-3, on Friday, for the ECAC title at 7 p.m. Saturday here at the Times Union Center.
Yet with little more than 90 seconds remaining Friday, it looked as if Yale might be on its way to the consolation game instead. Heading into an offensive zone draw after the timeout, head coach Keith Allain pulled netminder Alec Richards ’09 and stacked his line-up with some of his team’s best offensive players in the hope that Yale (23-7-2, 15-5-2 ECAC) could tie the score. The move paid off, as center Mark Arcobello ’10’s shot looped into the back of the net just six seconds after the face-off to tie things up at three.
Twenty-two seconds later, captain and right winger Matt Nelson ’09 notched the game-winner on a tap-in off a great lead pass from linemate Brendan Mason ’11. Once the Bulldogs had successfully held their lead during the final 1:06 of play, the miraculous turn-of-events was complete, and the dejected expressions of the stunned SLU players said it all.
After the Saints (21-12-4, 11-7-4) jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first period of play, goals from right winger Broc Little ’11 and right defenseman Ken Trentowski ’11 in quick succession gave the Elis a 2-1 lead early in the second period.
Saints defenseman Zach Miskovic, who leads the nation in goals for a defenseman with 16, tied things up with a screaming top-shelf slapper midway through the period, and St. Lawrence regained the lead at 16:54 thanks to a breakaway goal from forward Kevin DeVergilio.
The Saints – who kept up with Yale’s notoriously speedy skaters all night – caught the Bulldogs up, as defenseman Derek Keller’s clearance ricocheted off the boards and right into a streaking DeVergilio’s path. With no one but the goaltender to beat, DeVergiolio faked out Richards and slid the puck into the empty right side of the net.
Despite being outshot 17-8 during the final frame and facing a 3-on-5 situation that lasted almost 90 seconds, the Bulldog defense held strong during the third period, paving the way for the dramatic comeback.