Yale 2, rivals 0.
A pair of victories for the men’s hockey team against then-No. 4 Quinnipiac and Princeton allowed the team to bounce back from a controversial 1–0 loss at Vermont last week and go into the second half of the season on a two-game win streak.
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On Friday night, the No. 8 Bulldogs (7–3–2, 4–1–2 ECAC) exploded with four goals in the third period to upset Quinnipiac (12–3–0, 7–2–0) 7–4 at a sold-out Ingalls Rink. In what had been a back-and-forth contest, Yale captain and defenseman Ryan Donald ’10 tied the game at 4–4 with 11:26 left in the game, and left winger Denny Kearney ’11 scored with 4:36 to give Yale the lead for good.
“I was most pleased with the way we stuck with it, and stuck with it, and stuck with it even when things weren’t going our way,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “I think that showed a tremendous amount of character.”
The win ended the Bobcats’ eight-game win streak and handed the cross-town rivals their first ECAC loss. It also marked the third time that the Bulldogs had upset a top-10 team. Earlier in the season they defeated then-No. 9 Princeton and then-No. 3 Cornell.
Although the Elis outshot Quinnipiac in every period, the Bulldogs did not have a commanding lead until there was less than four minutes remaining in the game.
“I thought we were bad all night and quite honestly we had no reason to have a 4–3 lead in the third period,” Bobcat head coach Rand Pecknold said.
In the first period all four goals came off of power plays. Right winger Sean Backman ’10 had the first score of the night but Quinnipiac responded three minutes later with an equalizer, followed by the go-ahead goal with 6:30 left in the period. One minute later left winger Brian O’Neill ’12 tied the game at 2–2.
Yale started the second half with a bang when left wing Jeff Anderson ’11 stole the puck and beat Quinnipiac sophomore goaltender Dan Clarke five-hole to take the 3–2 lead, just 30 seconds into the period.
Although the Bulldogs largely controlled the second period — generating 12 shots on target, compared to the Bobcats’ six — the period ended tied 3–3 after Quinnipiac scored with 4:42 remaining, when a shot tipped off Eli goaltender Jeff Malcolm’s ’13 glove and passed him.
Six minutes into the final period, the Bobcats took the lead after players collided in front of the net and Quinnipiac center Brandon Wong hit the loose puck into the net for his second goal of the night.
Immediately after Wong’s shot landed in the net, fights broke loose on the ice. Right winger Brendan Mason ’11 and three Bobcats were given a combined seven penalties.
“I don’t think we came out in the third,” Allain said. “I thought those first six or seven minutes in the third were maybe our worst in the game.”
But two minutes later, the Elis responded with a goal coming from an unlikely source — Donald, who had scored just one goal this season. After the Bulldogs won a face-off in the Bobcats’ zone, Donald got the puck in front of Quinnipiac’s blue line and fired the puck into the top-left corner of the net.
“I was just trying to put it on the net and let our forwards go to work,” Donald said.
From there, the rest of the game was Yale’s.
The Bulldogs took the next ten shots, and Kearney recorded his third goal of the season to give Yale the 5–4 lead with 6:36 remaining. One minute later Backman made it 6–4 off of a pass from O’Neill.
Kearney scored an empty-net goal in the final minute to make it 7–4.
Backman said that the team thrived off of the energy of the rival crowds.
“[Quinnipiac] is only about 10 minutes away so you’re going to have some of their fans in our building, and that’s good because that fires us up too,” he said.
Allain said he was satisfied with the play of Malcolm, who had 18 saves in his third career start.
“He gave up three goals on power plays and I don’t think there was much he could do about those,” he said. “He played really well for us up in Vermont and I just sensed that he would be able to handle this environment well, and I think he did.”
The Bulldogs continued their momentum with an explosive start in their Saturday game against Princeton. Just 2:30 into the game, right winger Antoine Langaniere ’13 slapped the puck over Tiger goalie Alan Reynold’s left shoulder for the Elis first score of the game. And less than a minute and a half later the Bulldogs struck again. Backman found center Mark Arcobello ’10 in the middle of the ice who then shot the puck inside the right post of the Princeton goal, giving Yale a 2-0 advantage.
The Tigers (3–7–1, 2–6–1 ECAC) have not lived up to their No. 9 preseason ranking. And the Bulldogs have taken advantage, defeating the Tigers for the second time this season. Yale opened their season Princeton, 5–2, in a non-conference game to start their season, but right winger Broc Little ’11 said that the quick start was important because the Tigers have always given the Elis a good game. His coach agreed.
“We wanted to come out and play well right from the get-go,” Allain said. “Sometimes it can be a blessing and a curse because they may think it’s going to be an easy night. Against Princeton, it never is because they work so hard.”
The Yale offense somewhat stagnated after the two initial goals. With six minutes remaining in the first period, Princeton finally answered the Bulldog’s offensive onslaught. As Eli goalie Nick Maricic ’13 sprawled out onto the ice after a scramble for the puck, the Tiger’s Sam Sabky hit the puck into an open Yale net, cutting the Eli’s lead to one.
But that would be it for Princeton.
Early in the second frame, at 17:32, center Chad Ziegler ’12 launched a long slapshot from the middle of the ice that got past Reynolds and into the Tiger net. It was Ziegler’s first career goal.
“It was a huge load off my chest,” Ziegler said. “I didn’t get one last year and it felt so good to get one tonight.”
With 1:48 remaining in the third period, Little put the nail in the coffin, scoring the final goal of the game to put the Bulldogs up 4–1. The win was Yale’s fifth in its last six games.
“We hadn’t proven ourselves quite yet,” Ziegler said about the team’s performance before last weekend’s games. “I think this weekend we made a statement.”
After the two conference victories, the Bulldogs moved up in the USA Today/Hockey Magazine rankings from No. 10 to No. 7. and from No. 10 to No. 8 in the USCHO.com rankings.
Maricic finished the game with 33 saves and the Bulldogs were able to stop the Tigers on three power play opportunities.
Heading into a long break from game competition, the Elis said they are happy with the sweep, Little said. At this point last season, the Bulldogs had lost to Union, 5–2, before heading into the break.
“[The weekend was] awesome especially with two big teams coming in and especially going into the break,” Little said, also adding that last year it was hard to go into the break with a loss and dwelling on it for three weeks.
After the break, the Bulldogs will resume competition in the Badger Hockey Showdown in Madison, Wisc., beginning Jan. 2.