Last season’s highest-scoring team in the nation lived up to its billing this weekend.
The No. 5 men’s hockey team blasted past Brown (1–1-0) and Dartmouth (1–1–0) this weekend to win the Ivy Shootout and start the season undefeated. The Bulldogs (2–0–0) rallied in both matchups after rocky first periods, outstripping their opponents in the final frames to total seven goals per game and record definitive wins at Ingalls Rink.
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“We’re definitely a third period team,” said forward Brian O’Neill ’12, who notched three of the Blue’s 14 goals over the weekend. “We have to get off to better starts, and I don’t know if that’s a lack of focus, but we shouldn’t have to rely on coming back.”
Forward Denny Kearney ’11 had a hat trick Friday night as Yale topped Brown 7–4 in the season-opener. After a six-goal first period that left the Bulldogs (1–0) and Bears (0–1) tied at three, the Blue settled in and took control to win the first round of the Ivy Shootout.
Right winger Broc Little ’11, who led the country last year in goals per game, struck first that night. Little intercepted a Brown pass while the Elis were on penalty kill and sent the puck to Kearney as the left winger bore down on the net. Goaltender Mike Clemente turned aside Kearney’s shot, but Little jumped on the rebound to score a shorthanded goal at 8:50 of the first period.
But the Bears didn’t take long to respond. Just 31 seconds later, with Yale’s Jesse Root ’14 still in the penalty box, Brown’s Dennis Robertson rifled the Bears’ first shot of the game just past the outstretched leg of Jeff Malcolm ’13 to tie the game at one.
The goals and penalties kept coming. Forward Chris Cahill ’11 was assigned three penalties after bulldozing Clemente at 9:51 in the period, and defenseman Colin Dueck ’13 was sent off for tripping only 18 seconds later. Brown made the most of its five-on-three advantages, scoring two one-timers from the left slot and making the score 3–1 before Yale returned to even strength.
The Elis capped the six-goal, 10-penalty period with two scores of their own. Defenseman Kevin Peel ’12 one-timed a pass inside the far post on the power play with 17:14 left in the period. Twenty-one seconds later, Kearney earned the first point of his big night when he intercepted a Brown pass and wristed it over Clemente’s shoulder.
Yale took the lead in the fifth minute of the second frame when Kearney notched his second goal off a feed from Little. Clemente deflected a shot by center Andrew Miller ’13 in the 11th minute, but seconds later Kearney completed his trio of goals when he poked in a low shot from outside the left circle at 10:47. All of Kearney’s goals came at even strength.
“We showed that there is no quit in us, no matter the situation,” captain and defenseman Jimmy Martin ’11 said.
Left winger Brian O’Neill ’12 extended Yale’s edge to 6–3 with a power-play goal at 16:27, diving to tap in a cross from Miller just inches outside the net.
The Bears briefly regained momentum in the third period, with defenseman Jeff Buvinow capitalizing on a power play 48 seconds after intermission. A series of Yale penalties kept the Elis on the penalty kill for much of the frame. But unlike in the first period, the Blue repeatedly cleared the puck from the Yale zone to keep the visitors from rallying.
“Our penalty kill we definitely need to work on a little,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said, noting that all four Brown goals on Friday came when Yale was down players. “It’s a hard thing to work on in practice. You’ve got to get out and experience it. I think we got better as the game went along.”
In between penalties, O’Neill flicked a low wrister in from the slot to give his team some cushioning and the 7–4 final tally.
The next day, it was Dartmouth who fell in the final stretch.
Dartmouth drew first blood when a loose puck bounced away from left wing Nick Walsh to wide-open center Jason Bourgea. Yale goalkeeper Ryan Rondeau ’11 couldn’t move across the goal in time, and Dartmouth grabbed a 1–0 lead in the seventh minute.
“We only had a couple shots for the first 12 minutes,” forward O’Neill said. “We just didn’t have a lot of pop in our step in the first period. I don’t know what that was about.”
It took the Bulldogs eight minutes to even the score, but then Kearney slid a cross-ice pass to Little, who lifted a shot past the glove of Dartmouth goalie Jody O’Neill.
The visitors took the lead again four minutes into the second period when forward Scott Fleming tapped in a rebound, but the game was all Yale’s after that, with the next six goals belonging to the Bulldogs.
The comeback started with Little. Kevin Limbert ’12 found the streaking right wing in stride as he cut in alone on goal. Little tried to make a move, but Dartmouth defenseman Mike Keenan pulled him down from behind. The referees immediately signaled for a penalty shot.
Little made the most of his free chance to tie the game at two. He skated slowly in on Jody O’Neill, deked left, and lifted a backhand just over the prone goalie’s outstretched leg.
“I had a penalty shot against Dartmouth last year and I went forehand,” Little said. “This time I was thinking too much and didn’t make a great move. But I just got it over his pad.”
Yale seized its first lead of the game eight-and-a-half minutes later, when Yale’s O’Neill and Kearney skated in on offense. Kearney drew the Dartmouth defenders before whipping a pass at O’Neill, who one-timed his third goal of the season top shelf with 1:16 left in the second period.
The Bulldogs pulled out all the stops in the third period, netting four unanswered goals — including three in a two-and-a-half minute stretch — to put the game out of reach.
O’Neill gave Yale a 4–2 lead at 6:35, and five-and-a-half minutes later, the line of Limbert, Kearney, and Little split the Dartmouth defense with tic-tac-toe passes, allowing Limbert to finish the attack with a one-timer. Rookie forward Clinton Bourbonais ’14 netted the first goal by a Yale freshman this season when he knocked the rebound from a Chad Ziegler ’12 shot less than a minute later.
Allain said Bourbonais earned his ice time on Saturday from among a roster filled with talented attackers.
“We played another freshman center on that line, Jesse Root, and though he did a heck of a job, all these guys have done so well in practice that they deserve to be in the lineup,” Allain said. “Clinton’s one of those guys and he scored, but we have such depth up front that some good forwards are going to be out of the lineup every night.”
Limbert’s second goal of the game a minute later made the score 7–2 for Yale with 6:29 left to play. Dartmouth capitalized once on a power play as the clock wound down, but the Bulldogs held on for the 7–3 win.
Martin attributed the team’s third period successes over the weekend to their workout program and work ethic.
Yale returns to Ingalls Rink on Friday to face off against Princeton at 7 p.m.