How quickly can the nation’s leading offense score three goals? How about 51 seconds?
The men’s hockey team erased a three-goal deficit against Clarkson on Saturday at Ingalls Rink to tie the game 4–4 with 7:32 left to play. Right winger Broc Little ’11 had a hat trick against the Golden Knights (7–22–3, 3–15–2 ECAC), his third tally sealing the comeback with a 5–4 Yale overtime win.
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The previous night, it had taken the No. 5 Elis a bit longer — just under seven minutes — to turn a 4–3 second period deficit into a 6–4 lead as the home team defeated St. Lawrence 7–5 on Friday.
The pair of victories gave the Bulldogs (18–6–3, 14–4–2), who have now won six straight, sole possession of first place in the ECAC with two games remaining in the regular season. Yale also clinched a first-round bye in the ECAC Tournament, which begins on March 5.
“This [Clarkson] win is huge for us,” said Little, who is now tied for second in the nation in goals scored with 24, and leads the nation in goals per game. “We were down four last year against Colgate and we somehow came back. That kick started us in the right direction for the rest of the postseason, so hopefully this will do the same thing.”
ONE HOT MINUTE
ECAC bottom-dwellers Clarkson seemed poised for the upset with a commanding third period lead, but an offensive burst from the Elis made the home team victory seem more and more inevitable.
Little’s game-winner at 3:07 in the extra frame completed the Eli comeback.
“I have a really high level of trust and belief that through the course of a hockey game, these guys can find a way to get it done,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said.
After trying out both Billy Blase’10 and Nick Maricic ’13 in front of the net the previous night, Allain decided to go with Jeff Malcolm ’13 against the Golden Knights. It was his first start in eight games.
The Elis found themselves down 1–0 at 7:34 after a cross-ice pass by Clarkson caught the Yale defense too far up in their zone, giving the Knights an open look at the net.
Clarkson made it 2–0 midway through the second period, and despite a goal from Little at 17:38, the Knights responded less than a minute later with a goal of their own.
After letting in three goals off 18 shots, Malcolm was replaced by Blase at the start of the third period.
Clarkson’s first shot of the period — a wrister that went top shelf past Blase — increased the Knights’ lead to 4–1 at 1:06. After the Bulldogs failed to scored on a two minute long 5-on-3 advantage that ended at 8:35, the Knights appeared poised to pull off the upset.
But after left winger Denny Kearney ’11 scored at 12:28, the momentum immediately shifted to the Yale side.
“We’re a team that feeds off of momentum and once we got that second goal I think guys started to believe a little bit,” right winger Sean Backman ’10 said. “Two goals is doable, three is tough.”
Four seconds later, a Clarkson player was called for interference, and left winger Jeff Anderson ’11 made it a one-goal game 33 seconds after that.
And they weren’t done yet. Fourteen seconds later, Kearney found Little, whose second goal of the night evened the game 4–4 and sent the sold-out Ingalls Rink crowd into a frenzy.
“The place went crazy,” center Mark Arcobello ’10 said. “Their goalie got tired, and we kind of had them.”
The Elis dominated the rest of the period, but despite unloading 23 shots in the third frame — a total that tied their season high for a period — Yale needed overtime to get the win that all of Ingalls Rink knew was coming.
With a little under two minutes remaining in the overtime period, it was a Kearney pass to Little that sealed the deal — and the hat trick.
“I saw Denny with the puck by the net and I was off to the side,” Little said. “There was no one really in front of the net, so I got in there and tried to fend off the ‘D’-guy. Denny finally saw me on the back door there. I got enough of it to tuck it around the post and I don’t know, I blacked out after that.”
The Bulldogs had 56 shots to Clarkson’s 26, Yale’s highest total of the season.
SHOOTOUT AT INGALLS
Yale’s 7–5 win over the fourth-place Saints on Friday was a similarly wild contest that saw 17 penalties and 12 goals — two of which came just before the buzzer and had to be reviewed.
“This certainly wasn’t the script that we wanted, but it was good for us in the sense that it was a real test of our focus and mental toughness,” Allain said. “Our guys really beared down when push came to shove and gutted out a good win. In the long run, this will be a valuable win for us.”
At first, it looked like the Bulldogs were looking at an easy win. Already up 1–0 after a goal from right defenseman Kevin Peel ’12, Yale had recorded all 13 of the game’s shots. But the Saints proved effective at converting the few chances they did get, tying it at one at 7:48 off of just their second shot on goal of the night.
Center Brendan Mason ’11 put his team back on top two minutes later after stealing the puck on the forecheck, but the Saints converted their fourth shot of the night at 12:25 to keep the game tied, 2–2.
Arcobello made it 3–2 at 17:52 after receiving a nifty one-time pass from right defenseman Jimmy Martin ’11 on the power play, but with a 5-on-3 advantage, SLU got its own power play goal with four seconds left in the first period.
After having surrendered three goals off of just seven shots, Blase was replaced by Maricic to start the second period.
At first, Maricic didn’t look any better, though, as the Saints took a 4–3 lead just 22 seconds into the period.
But Yale responded with a string of three goals in a seven minute span to take control of the game. Backman tied things up after knocking the puck in out of the air. Peel had his second goal of the night on the power play off a pass from Little, as the right winger found Peel midway through the second frame to put the home team back in the lead.
When left winger Brian O’Neill ’12 gave the Elis a two-goal lead at 12:27, it appeared like Yale was starting to wrap up the game. But despite being outshot 33–11 at that point, the Saints battled back with another 5-on-3 goal, one second before the end of the period.
The Knights scored three goals on eight power-play opportunities, but Allain said that he did not fault his players for the calls.
“I’m not going to comment on the penalties,” Allain said. “I’m not blaming my players for them, put it that way.”
Both teams had chances in the third period, but despite the 11 goals scored during the first two periods, the third frame’s only tally came when Little scored an empty netter at 18:26 to seal the 7–5 win.
The weekend once again highlighted Yale’s offensive prowess, as well as its defensive struggles. Three Eli netminders each saw two periods of play over the weekend.
“Best case scenario, we have 10 games left,” Allain said. “I don’t think we need a goalie to play in all 10.”
The senior class was honored before Saturday’s game in what was their final regular season game at home. The five seniors, who have won Ivy League titles in three of their four years, were introduced as arguably the most successful class in Yale’s 115-year hockey history.
“The seniors have been the singular reason for the turnaround [over the past four years],” Allain said. “I held them up early on when they were freshman, as if they were going to be different, they were going to lead a turnaround. I gave them lots of ice time and lots of responsibility. I couldn’t have asked for a better group.”
The Bulldogs end the regular season on the road against Princeton and Quinnipiac this weekend. Yale tickets to Saturday’s game at Quinnipiac have already sold out.