By the time the third period rolled around, the Quinnipiac Bobcats — like every squad the men’s hockey team has played so far this season — couldn’t keep up.
After falling behind 1-0 after the first period, the Bulldogs (4–0–0, 2–0–0 ECAC) notched five unanswered goals to top crosstown rivals Quinnipiac, 5-1, Saturday night at Ingalls Rink. It was the third game this season that the Elis have overcome an early deficit to emerge victorious.
“I thought they were by far the best team we have played all year,” left winger Brian O’Neill ’12 said of the Bobcats (5–3–1, 0–1–1).
As in the past three games, the Bulldogs skated into yet another slow first period against Quinnipiac.
Right winger Charles Brockett ’12 notched the first shot of the game, firing a hard attempt at Quinnipiac goalie Dan Clarke from the left circle after captain Jimmy Martin ’11 gained control of the puck in neutral territory.
Defenseman Loren Barron was sent off for tripping moments later, but the Elis failed to capitalize on the power play.
The Bobcats got a one-man advantage in the fifth minute after right winger Broc Little ’11 was sent off for roughing, but Yale survived a couple of good Quinnipiac chances to kill the penalty.
But the Elis weren’t so lucky when a boarding penalty was called on left defenseman Colin Dueck ’14 at 7:37. Defenseman Zach Davies got the puck at the blueline for Quinnipiac and sent it across to teammate Zach Hansen, whose quick shot rebounded off Rondeau. Center Jeremy Langlois picked up the rebound and took a shot from the left circle that Rondeau blocked, but Langlois crashed the net and poked it through to give Quinnipiac a 1–0 lead at 7:49.
“They certainly came out strong and I thought we weren’t moving our legs as fast as we should have,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said.
Play remained concentrated in the neutral zone for the next few minutes, with neither side managing much of a chance on goal.
Goaltender Ryan Rondeau ’11, who started his third consecutive game for Yale on Saturday, kept the Bobcats’ lead to one with a big save when he stopped an uncontested shot by a Quinnipiac attacker from the right circle.
“Some nights you just see the puck well and it’s hitting you,” Rondeau said, “That’s what happened tonight.”
The Bulldogs went on power play again with 17 seconds left in the period. When the buzzer signaled intermission, Yale trooped off the ice with just eight shots to Quinnipiac’s 14, and a 1–0 deficit.
The Blue came back in the second period sporting a more aggressive forecheck. Although the Bulldogs couldn’t convert on the man advantage with which they continued at the start of the period, their new aggressiveness soon yielded results.
Five minutes into the powerplay, left winger Denny Kearney ’11 lofted a leading pass to Little from the Yale blueline. Racing in on Bobcat goalie Dan Clarke at full speed, Little ended up crashing with his defender into the goalpost and seeing the puck bounce harmlessly away.
But the Bulldogs kept putting together plays like that, and Kearney found the back of the net minutes later when he stole a Quinnipiac pass at their blue line, kept the puck, and wristed a low shot under Clarke to knot the score at 1–1 five minutes into the frame.
The referees assigned three penalties — two on the Bobcats — in the twelfth minute after center Jesse Root ’14 got hit hard along the boards by Bobcat Conner Jones, stood up, and decked his opponent to start a scuffle on the ice. Still, Yale again failed to create opportunities to capitalize on the advantage.
But that changed minutes later. Quinnipiac left winger Scott Zurevinski skated into the box for hooking at 14:03, and 99 seconds into the power play, Yale finally converted.
After a long possession and some crisp puck movement, right winger Chad Ziegler ’12 snuck a cross through two Quinnipiac defenders and to Little, who backhanded it up and past Clarke from the right edge of the slot to give Yale its first lead of the night.
The Elis killed off one last penalty before the second period closed to hold their 2–1 lead with 20 minutes left on the clock.
The Bulldogs put the score out reach in the third period.
Yale blitzed Clarke with two goals within 1:15 of each other to knock the struggling goaltender out of the game. Quinnipiac sent in goalie Eric Hartzell, who stopped seven of the eight shots he faced, but the damage was done. Yale shut down the Bobcat attack and Quinnipiac never came close to cutting the deficit.
O’Neill broke the Bobcats’ spirit with Yale’s final goal of the night and his second tally of the game. Center Andrew Miller ’13 sent the puck to the slot, where O’Neill was waiting all by himself to knock home his fifth goal of the season.
O’Neill, Little, and Kearney all share the team lead in goals, with five apiece.
“Me and Denny aren’t pure goal scorers like Broc, who obviously has a scoring touch,” O’Neill said. “But someone had to step up after our [graduation] losses last year, so Denny and me have been getting some shots.”
The goal-scoring wasn’t the only story of the night for the Bulldogs. Rondeau turned aside 29 of 30 shots in what Allain called a “confident” performance.
“Rondeau looked comfortable out there, and that’s important for a team to have behind them,” Allain said.