Quinnipiac brought the hype and the hits Friday night. Yale brought the hockey.
The Bulldog offense clicked for a second consecutive road game and lifted Yale to a 6–1 win over Quinnipiac with goals from five different skaters. A sellout crowd filled the arena at Quinnipiac (13–13–5, 6–9–4 ECAC) for a contest its students have dubbed “The Game.” But as the Elis (21–5, 15–4) shut down their opponents on the ice, they silenced the stands as well and won for the first time ever at TD Bank Sports Center.
Home fans packed the student section 45 minutes before the game. Most had been given yellow thunder sticks and yellow “Beat Yale” T-shirts before the game, and they made their presence heard at every hit and Quinnipiac scoring chance in the first period.
But it took Yale just four minutes to respond to their cheers and find the back of the net. When Ken Trentowksi ’11 beat the Bobcats’ screened goalie Eric Hartzell with a long shot, the noise from the yellow student section dipped. When Kevin Limbert ’12 made the score 2–0 with a shorthanded goal 14 seconds before the end of the first period, the noise dipped further. Three more Yale goals later, when the horn sounded to end the second period, Quinnnipiac students were already looking for the exits.
By the beginning of the third period, the sold out Bobcats’ arena was more than half empty.
Yale had rediscovered its offensive prowess on the road with a 6–3 victory over Clarkson last Saturday. The six-goal effort that crushed the fans at Quinnipiac proved that Yale’s highest scoring game since Nov. 20 was no fluke.
“I think we got back to playing our game,” Jimmy Martin ’11 said. “We have a style of hockey and an intensity level that we strive for, and we got back to that tonight.”
While the win against Clarkson relied largely on the heroics of Brian O’Neill ’12 and Brendan Mason ’11, who combined for five goals, Friday night’s offensive outburst showcased the depth of Yale’s attack. Every one of the team’s lines managed a goal, and each defensive pairing contributed at least a point. That balanced production was more than enough to beat Quinnipiac, which beat Yale netminder Ryan Rondeau ’11 just once despite 31 shots.
“Rondeau was outstanding tonight,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said after the game. “It’s easy to forget about the goalie in a 6–1 game, but they had some really good chances and he looked poised and solid.”
The successful offensive effort started early — a welcome change for a team that has struggled to start the game with full intensity for much of the season. Even before the winter break, when Yale owned an 11-game winning streak, the team frequently stumbled in the opening frames. Goals came in the second and third stanzas, not in the first 20 minutes.
Things were different against Quinnipiac. The first period spark that Yale ignited against Clarkson last Saturday continued to burn at the outset against the Elis’ crosstown rivals. Along with Trentowski and Limbert’s goals, Yale managed to pressure Quinnipiac throughout four power plays in the stanza. Though the Elis failed to score on any of those first period advantages, Denny Kearney ’11 said the first period effort was huge.
“We’ve had some slow starts on the road recently, and getting some early goals takes the crowd out of it a little bit,” he said.
Yale increased its lead to 3–0 on a confusing play that needed video review to sort it out. Martin appeared to deflect a shot off the pipes early in the second stanza. The game continued for another minute before play stopped and the referees had a chance to review Martin’s blast from the right circle. The tape showed what Denny Kearney ’11 said players from the Yale bench saw clearly all along — Martin’s shot had gone into the goal and through the net.
By the end of the second period, Yale had built a 5–1 lead and barely half the once-raucous student section that had filled the stands almost an hour before game time remained. Yale drifted through the end of the game and Kearney added one last goal on a shot that went the length of the ice and into the Quinnipiac goal after the Bobcats had pulled their goalie to turn a late two-man advantage into a 6-on-3.
Despite that brief Quinnipiac threat to score, the game was so one-sided by the third period that, when a puck deflected into the Yale bench area with 15 minutes left, Allain — who is usually intensely focused on the bench — caught it and tossed it to a fan in the seats behind him.
Although it won, Yale remains in second place in the ECAC, a single point behind Union (23–7–3, 15–3–1), which beat Clarkson in overtime Friday night.
The Elis next play at 1 p.m. against Princeton on Sunday in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.