Call them late New Year’s fireworks.
Yale took just over five minutes to shake off the rust of their holiday break. Then a Denny Kearney ’11 goal opened up the floodgates for the most goals Yale has scored in a game since 1998. When the dust settled on the hockey team’s offensive explosion, they were skating off the Ingalls Rink ice Sunday with a 10–3 victory over Holy Cross, (6–10–2, 5–4–2 Atlantic Hockey) which remains winless in four chances all time against Yale.
The No. 1 Bulldogs (12-1-0, 6-0-0 ECAC) beat three different goalies and made it onto the scoreboard in every period. Top scorer Broc Little ’11 notched a hat trick. So did rookie Kenny Agostino ’14, who was playing in only his eighth game of the season. Even goaltender Ryan Rondeau ’11 had an assist.
Despite the absence of head coach Keith Allain ’80 — Allain is coaching the United States team at the World Junior hockey championships — the Elis scored their most goals of the season and extended the longest current winning streak in the nation to seven games.
Twenty-five days separated the sixth and seventh wins. That break could have hurt the team’s momentum, but Little said the time off was beneficial.
“Everyone thinks a break kind of sucks, but I think it can be good for the team and rejuvenate us a little,” he said.
Little — whose four points raised his points per game average to the second best in the nation — had been stymied in the team’s last two wins before the break. As Yale skated to shutout victories over Union and Vermont, opposing teams managed to shut down the lethal Bulldog first line of Little, Kearney, and Kevin Limbert ’12. On Sunday, Little especially found a way to the Holy Cross net on almost every one of its shifts. In the first period, Little fed Kearney for the team’s opening goal, then drew both a penalty and a collective gasp from the crowd with his first goal of the night.
Little had collected a long pass from captain Jimmy Martin ’11 in stride as he skated across the red line. Little found himself in a familiar situation: flying toward the opposing goalie at full speed with just one defender to beat. Minutes earlier, he had knocked the net off its moorings after an attempt like this one failed, falling to the ice at full speed.
Once again Holy Cross knocked the winger off his feet inside the blue line. The referee’s hand flew up to signal a penalty. Little kept going. As he slid across the ice on his rear end, he corralled the puck and flipped it over visiting goalie Adam Roy. The red light flashed, Little treated the sparsely populated student section to an exuberant celebration, and Brendan Baker, the guilty Holy Cross defender, skated to the penalty box.
“Broc is Broc,” said associate head coach Kyle Wallack, who was filling in for absent head coach Keith Allain, “He scores goals, and he’s a threat to do it every time he’s on the ice.”
Little’s highlight reel effort left the Bulldogs with a 5–2 lead at the end of the first period. He added a goal in the second and the team’s only marker of the final frame and each goal of Little’s third career hat trick came against a different goalie — Holy Cross sent a different netminder out each period. Combined, the trio let one quarter of the 40 shots they faced past them.
Agostino, Brian O’Neill ’12, and Mike Matczak ’11 added goals, as did Josh Balch ’13, whose tally was one of the nine points scored by the young line of Agostino, Balch, and Jesse Root ’14. That performance more than doubled the season output of the trio, which had combined for eight points before torching Holy Cross.
“They were real good at initiating things with the puck,” Wallack said. “They played a good
physical game and they were real greasy around the net.”
Agostino was the smoothest of all the underclassmen. He had two assists to accompany his hat trick.
The overall offensive outburst allowed Wallack, who came to Yale five years ago from
Holy Cross, to beat a coach he once assisted and whom he called one of his mentors.
Wallack will resume his assistant role when the team returns to ECAC action at Dartmouth on Jan. 7 and at Harvard on Jan. 8.
YDN’S THREE STARS
- Broc Little ’11
A hat trick is impressive. But Little made it look better than impressive. He scoredhis first goal as he slid along the ice with a defender on top of him. He scored his last from his knees. He crashed the Holy Cross net relentlessly all game and turned plays that looked broken into scoring threats. Little looked on Sunday night exactly like a player who could be on the short list for the Hobey Baker award, college hockey’s top honor.
- Kenny Agostino ’14
He more than doubled his season point total with two assists to go along with his hat trick.
- Josh Balch ’13
His one goal and two assists were his first points of the season.
(Box score three stars: Agostino, Little, Balch)