One year ago, Kenny Agostino ’14 was lacing up his skates for his high school team. Saturday night, he carried the nation’s top ranked college hockey team to victory.
Agostino broke a scoreless tie in the second period and added another tally during the team’s three-goal third period as No. 1 Yale (17–2, 11–1 ECAC) dominated the final frame for the second consecutive night in a 4–1 win over St. Lawrence (7–12–4, 3–8).
“He’s really come along — coming from New Jersey high school hockey it’s a huge step and especially in the second half so far he’s been unbelievable,” Mike Matczak ’11 said of Agostino. “He’s really hitting his stride and showing what he can do out there.”
It took more than 30 minutes for Agostino or anyone else on the ice to find the back of the net. Captain Jimmy Martin ’11 came the closest to a goal in the first period when his slap shot clanged off the inside of the far post and set the red light flashing, but the goal was waved off by the referees after video review.
St. Lawrence received a chance of its own soon after Brendan Mason ’11 was sent off for hooking in the 14th minute. Colin Dueck ’11 was caught cross-checking soon after and followed his teammate into the penalty box. For the next 1:11, the Saints enjoyed a two-man advantage.
But even as the visitors’ offense kicked into high gear, goalie Ryan Rondeau ’11 settled into the net. He made a pair of glove saves, his defenders managed two crucial clears, and the crowd roared as Mason and Dueck exited the box. The Saints had managed five shots, but the score remained knotted at zero.
“I did feel like we got life from our penalty kills tonight,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “I thought Mason’s line was outstanding. They shut down their big line, the line that’s got almost half their goals.”
The two teams’ offensive troubles continued in the second period. St. Lawrence had outshot Yale, 12–6, in the first period, and the Bulldogs continued to struggle to put shots on net. But, after they killed Dueck’s second penalty of the night seven minutes into the stanza, Allain said the momentum changed.
Indeed, Agostino broke the tie just five minutes later.
As Antoine Laganiere ’13 intercepted a Saints clearing attempt and threw it at the Saints’ net, Agostino followed the puck in, picked up the rebound, and skated around prone netminder Matt Weninger before slipping a shot into the wide open net.
The slim one-goal lead was all Yale would get from the second period. But the team that time and time again has proven a third-period powerhouse showed its prowess once more in Saturday’s final frame.
The Bulldogs failed to convert on a tripping penalty assigned to the Saints at the period’s outset, but Matczak opened up Yale’s lead 24 seconds after returning to even strength. Weninger had just deflected Agostino’s solo attempt when Matczak sent a soft wrister from the blue line that drifted through traffic straight past the screened St. Lawrence goalie.
But Yale wasn’t done beating Weninger, nor was Agostino. The Saints’ Aaron Bogosian had been sent to the box for hitting from behind when the nation’s No. 3 power play did the damage it is famous for. Miller shook off a St. Lawrence forward and passed to Cahill, who fed the puck to Agostino. The red-hot left winger was unfazed by a tricky angle, and converted a one-timer to post his second goal of the night.
“I think I’m just confident and a little bit of it is luck, sort of being in the right place at the right time,” said Agostino, who has scored seven goals in his past seven games. “And again, I’m just always playing with great players.”
St. Lawrence narrowed the deficit to two goals with fewer than two minutes to go, and tried to close the gap further when assistant coach Bob Prier — who was filling in for head coach Joe Marsh as the 25-year veteran recovered from a surgery earlier in the week — pulled Weninger.
Brian O’Neill ’12 ensured that the plan backfired with an empty net goal seconds later. But the Saints weren’t done. Or feeling very saintlike.
Forward Sean Flanagan tripped O’Neill egregiously from behind as the Yale winger shot the puck, and a melee ensued by the boards in front of the student section. Punches flew, helmets came off, and it took the referees almost five minutes to sort out the mess. They assigned a combined 45 penalty minutes to Flanagan, Jeremy Wick, Mason, and Matczak, but the sentences were mere formalities. The final whistle blew seconds later, on the Yale victory.
The Bulldogs will look to extend their winning streak next Friday at Union in upstate New York. The Elis take on Rensselaer the following night.
Correction: January 23, 2011
An earlier version of this article misstated that Kenny Agostino ’14 opened the scoring against St. Lawrence in the first period. In fact, he scored the first goal of the game in the second.