M. HOCKEY | Yale caps winter break with victory over Harvard

CAMBRIDGE — Head coach Keith Allain ’80 hasn’t slept at home or seen his children since he left New Haven to coach the American team in the World Junior Championships more than two weeks ago. But he saw at least one familiar thing Saturday night: another Yale win.

No. 1 Yale (14-1, 8-0 ECAC) received goals from four different skaters en route to yet another conference victory Saturday night. The 4–2 road win came at the expense of struggling Harvard (3–8, 2–7 ECAC) and extended the team’s perfect run in the ECAC so far this season to eight games.

“We gave up more chances than we’d like, but I liked how we wore them down by the third period,” Allain said.

Twelve Elis registered one point apiece in an effort that showcased the squad’s depth and special teams play. Yale converted two of eight power plays, but one of those advantages came at what seemed to be a high cost.

Six minute and 55 seconds into the third period, Harvard’s Jack McCollem crushed Jesse Root ’14 from behind into the boards near Yale’s bench. Root hit the glass face first and crumpled to the ice. The young center stayed down for about ten seconds before climbing to his feet. But he quickly swayed to the side, lost balance, and fell back down as trainers and teammates converged. Root had to be helped off the ice, and was immediately taken to the locker room. After some delay, McCollem was assigned a major penalty for boarding.

It took Yale only 40 seconds to score. Broc Little ’11 fed Chad Ziegler ’12 perfectly with a pass through the crease, and the big winger knocked a one-timer home to widen the Yale lead to 4–1. Ziegler was knocked to the ice in the crease as he celebrated, but Little had the room to gesture triumphantly to McCollem in the penalty box.

Coach Keith Allain ’80 said after the game that he had no information on Root’s condition.

“You hate to see anybody go down, and Jesse [Root] is a really talented player,” Kenny Agostino ’14 said. “But thankfully we have a deep team and guys who will be willing to step up.”

The hit was no exception as Harvard played a particularly rough hockey game. McCollem had two roughing penalties in addition to his major one. The first came after he and Mike Matczak ’11 exchanged shoves by the end boards in the first period. The Crimson continued to throw bodies at Yale throughout the game.

“When you’re number one, teams are going after you,” said winger Brendan Mason ’11, who scored in the game and was a physical force all over the rink. “They’re hungry after the whistle.”

Despite the physical play, Yale had chances to show off its speed and offensive prowess. Although he had been an unexplained late scratch against Dartmouth, Chris Cahill ’11 shook off rumors about his eligibility with a blast past Harvard goalie Ryan Carroll during a second period power play.

Cahill had skated to the top of the left circle when he wound up and registered Yale’s second goal with a shot that flew over Carroll’s glove and into the top corner of the net.

The senior’s tally gave Yale a 2–0 lead. But Harvard pulled within a single goal 5:32 later when Danny Biega scored his first of two goals.

The Elis refused to let the home team keep the momentum going. Mason one-timed a pass from Charles Brockett ’12 through Carroll’s legs 4:53 into the third period to make the score 3–1, and the Crimson never threatened seriously again.

Allain called the goal the moment at which he felt the Bulldogs had the game securely in its grasp.

Mason’s effort was a rare goal from Yale’s trio of defensive-minded forwards. Mason, Brockett, and Ziegler typically go up against opposing team’s top lines. They pride themselves on shutting opponents down, not necessarily looking for flashy goals, according to Mason.

Harvard scored once more while up two attackers with less than a minute to go. But goaltender Ryan Rondeau ’11 and the Yale defense stonewalled the home team for most of the night. Unlike Friday, however, when Yale played strong defense against one of the nation’s better offensive teams, Dartmouth, Harvard skated onto the ice against Yale averaging the fewest goals per game in the nation.

Nonetheless, Rondeau skated off the ice with the nation’s second lowest goals against average, and Yale extended the longest current winning streak in the country to nine games.

“It’s unbelievable where we are right now,” Agostino said. “But it’s still early in the season.”

Peter Jasinski contributed reporting.

YDN’s three stars:

Brendan Mason ’11, center

On a night on which no individual Eli excelled on the score sheet, Mason accompanied the game winning goal with the kind of physical play that Yale needed to keep up with a hungry and bruising Harvard squad. When Crimson shirts crowded Ryan Rondeau ’11 after the whistle, Mason was there to protect his goalie. When Yale was clinging to a one-goal lead at the beginning of the third period, Mason was there to light the lamp and extend the lead.

Chad Ziegler ’12, left wing

Harvard’s physical play could have gotten to Yale after Jesse Root ’14 made the crowd gasp after getting up woozily and then collapsing back onto the ice. But Ziegler quickly made sure that the Crimson would play for Matt McCollem’s boarding. His redirection of a Broc Little ’11 pass clinched the game by extending the Yale lead to three goals. Ziegler also used his big 205-pound frame to great effect on the Crimson.

Danny Biega, Harvard sophomore, right defenseman

The defenseman provided all the offense Harvard could manage on a night when few shots were coming anywhere close to beating Rondeau. His +1 rating meant that he finished as one of only two Crimson skaters who were positive on the night.

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