M. HOCKEY | Elis split opening weekend

Kenny Agostino ’14 has made seven shots in four games so far this season. The Bulldogs had 22 shots on goal in Saturday’s game against Colgate.
Kenny Agostino ’14 has made seven shots in four games so far this season. The Bulldogs had 22 shots on goal in Saturday’s game against Colgate. Photo by Jimin He.

It was a weekend of mixed emotions for the Eli faithful. After a drubbing from Cornell and a confidence-inspiring win over Colgate, it remains unclear how the Elis will stack up against their competition this year.

CORNELL PLAYS SPOILER

The Big Red (1–1–0, 1–0–0 ECAC) scored two goals in the final seven minutes of the first period Friday night, a deficit that proved too much for the Bulldogs (1–1–1, 0–1–0 ECAC) to overcome, resulting in a 6–2 loss. The defeat snapped the Elis’ 20-game winning streak at home.

The Blue and White jumped out to a blazing start, firing the game’s first seven shots on goal and finishing the opening frame with a 13–6 shot advantage. But Cornell’s goalie Andy Iles managed to hold off the Yale onslaught, saving every shot he faced.

“That was our best ten minutes [of the game],” captain and forward Brian O’Neill ’12 said. “When you don’t capitalize on that, it’s frustrating.”

A Yale turnover in the neutral zone set up Cornell’s first score of the night. With 6:11 left in the first period, an open John Esposito fired off a one-timer in front of the net for the game’s first goal.

The Big Red struck again with just 38 seconds left before the first intermission. A scramble in front of the Yale net sent the puck to left-winger Joel Lowry, who fired a rising shot past goaltender Jeff Malcolm ’13.

But the Bulldogs shifted the momentum back in their favor, scoring their first goal at home this season 32 seconds into the second period. After receiving the puck from Kevin Limbert ’12, forward Chad Ziegler ’12 immediately launched a low shot from the top of the left circle. The puck flew behind Iles into the far post, giving Ziegler his second goal of the year.

“It was offensive pressure from myself and my linemates,” Ziegler said. “We forced a turnover just inside the blue line, and Limbert just gave me a great pass. It was perfect for me just to get a quick shot off and be able to beat the goalie while he was moving across the net.”

The Big Red dominated the middle frame offensively, gaining a 16–8 shot advantage.

For the second period in a row, the Bulldogs gave up a goal with less than a minute to play. Malcolm blocked a shot by Brian Ferlin but could not hang on to the puck as Greg Miller swooped in and gave the Big Red a 3–1 lead with 52 seconds left on the clock.

“Whenever the other team scores late in the period that’s always a momentum-buster, and it just shouldn’t happen,” O’Neill said. “Any time you get a goal scored against in the last minute or two in the period, it’s pretty frustrating.”

Nicholas Weberg ’15 had a chance to tie the game five minutes after Ziegler’s goal. The freshman’s shot bounced off the post but the frantic scrambling that ensued could not give the Bulldogs the equalizer.

20 seconds into the final period, Cornell pulled further ahead when Lowry beat a defender off the wall and rifled the puck over Malcolm’s shoulder. Malcolm finished the game with 26 saves.

With 5:45 remaining, the Big Red struck the finishing blow when Kirill Gotovets escaped the Yale defense and sneaked past Malcolm’s right side to put the puck away. Cornell scored an empty net goal with less than minute left in the game.

“Every time they scored, we tried harder instead of trying to be smarter,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “We didn’t respond the way we would have liked to.”

Blueliner Tommy Fallen ’15 scored the Bulldogs’ final goal of the night off a feed from Andrew Miller ’13. Fallen blasted a shot from the left point that sailed through traffic into the back of the net.

The Blue and White had not allowed an opponent to score six goals since their 9–7 loss to Boston College in the 2010 NCAA Northeast Regional Final.

RAIDERS COME UP EMPTY

But the Bulldogs (2–1–1, 1–1–0 ECAC) did not let the deflating loss to Cornell affect them on Saturday as they shut out No. 18 Colgate (5–3–1, 1–1–0) 2–0 for their first home win of the season.

For the fourth straight game, the Elis were outshot by their opponents. On paper, the Raiders seemed to have dominated the game offensively, finishing with a 39–22 advantage in shots on goal. However, the Elis ultimately proved to be the more potent offense of the night.

“I thought we had the better scoring chances most of the night,” Allain said. “Unfortunately on many of our good opportunities we missed the net, so you don’t get credit for that shot. But I thought we were the better hockey team.”

Penalties marred the first period as the two teams combined for five trips to the box. But the Elis took advantage and drew first blood.

Halfway through the opening frame, a slashing penalty sent Colgate forward Matt Nasca to the penalty box. With 15 seconds left on the power play, Nick Jaskowiak ’12 fired a long shot toward the goal that went high. But center Clint Bourbonais ’14 picked up the rebound and slipped the puck to a waiting Antoine Laganiere ’13 in front of the net. Laganiere’s shot trickled through goaltender Erick Mihalik’s legs, giving the Elis a 1–0 lead.

After the initial goal, neither the Raiders nor the Bulldogs could create good scoring opportunities during the second period. After giving Cornell plenty of chances right in front of the net, Yale’s blueliners forced the Raiders to settle mostly for shots on the perimeter.

“We talked about paying more attention to detail in our forecheck,” Allain said. “The real difference I think is that our guys were skating as a five man unit tonight. Last night they worked hard but it was kind of individual and tonight’s effort was more of a collective effort.”

The Elis consistently created turnovers during the second and early third periods and launched several speedy counterattacks that sent the crowd to its feet.

However, the Bulldogs could not finish the breakaway opportunities, often hesitating for too long and letting the Colgate defense catch up. The game stood at 1–0 in favor of Yale for over 30 minutes.

“We’re not scoring as much as last year,” Bourbonais said. “But we’re getting the same opportunities, and we just need to bare down in greasy areas in front of the net and along the boards.”

With less than eight minutes left in the game, the Elis put the final nail in the coffin. Left-winger Josh Balch ’12 sent a pass to an unguarded Bourbonais from behind the net. The sophomore fired a low shot from the slot that passed Mihalik’s outstretched skate.

The Raiders pulled their goalie with 1:42 left and desperately attacked the Yale defense. However, the man advantage did not translate into a goal for Colgate. The Raiders failed to take advantage when they had a player-advantage throughout the game, going 0-5 on power plays.

After giving up five goals to Cornell, netminder Jeff Malcolm ’13 rebounded on Saturday night, stopping all 39 shots he faced and posting his first career shutout. Malcolm’s 39 saves are the highest by a Yale goaltender since Ryan Rondeau ’11 made 40 saves against Princeton on Oct. 31, 2009 in a 5–2 Yale win.

“Guys did a great job in front of me, keeping shots to the outside, and letting me see the puck,” Malcolm said. “I just got into my groove and had some fun making some saves tonight. It’s tough to win in this league so you … just have to keep battling.”

The Elis will travel to New York next weekend to take on two ECAC foes, Union College and RPI.

“We’ll do what we usually do in the week,” Allain said. “Tomorrow morning we’ll lift and have a good practice and go over tonight’s game, and we’ll keep building our game as the week goes on each day in practice.”

Last year’s road trip to Union and RPI resulted in consecutive losses that knocked off the No. 1 ranked Bulldogs.

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