It was a tale of two different hockey teams.
Facing off against two challenging opponents in Union and RPI on the road, the men’s hockey team proved that it could win with a shutdown defense as well as an explosive offense. The Bulldogs finished their road trip with a pair of victories that launched them into a three-way tie atop the ECAC with Cornell and St. Lawrence.
YALE WINS DEFENSIVE STRUGGLE
Against a speedy RPI squad, the Elis struggled to find their rhythm offensively.
But a suffocating defense gave the Bulldogs (4–1–1, 3–1 ECAC) a 2–0 victory over the Engineers, (2–9, 1–3). RPI generated six power play opportunities but came up empty-handed each time against the stout Elis’ penalty-killing unit, which has allowed just one power play goal so far this year.
The Blue and White offense drew first blood less than two minutes into the game.
Left-winger Josh Balch ’12 stole the puck away from defenseman Pat Koudys in the neutral zone and sped down the left side toward netminder Bryce Merriam. Balch faked a shot to Merriam’s left before slipping the puck behind the outstretched goalie for his first goal of the year.
But defensive plays dominated the rest of the game as neither team could create good scoring opportunities.
“I think we’re doing a good job just keeping it simple, getting back on pucks and moving them up to the wingers quickly,” Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm ’13 said about the defense.
After skating to a stalemate in the opening frame, the Engineers were determined to equalize the score in the second period, outshooting the Bulldogs 13–8. However, netminder Malcolm proved too tough for RPI to overcome, blocking every shot he faced. Malcolm finished the game with 27 saves and posted his second career shutout.
“Malcolm has been stellar since the beginning of the year,” forward Charles Brockett ’12 said. “When you have a guy back there that everyone has confidence in it definitely helps everyone to build confidence.”
The Elis’ blueliners stunned RPI’s offensive momentum all game long with relentless back-checking and disruption of the Engineers’ passing lanes. Despite drawing three penalties in the middle frame, the Bulldogs kept the Engineers scoreless through two periods.
With less than two minutes left in the game, the Blue and White struck the final blow.
Halfway through Yale’s third power play of the night, forward Kenny Agostino ’14 slipped the puck to a waiting Clint Bourbonais ’14 in front of the net. The sophomore center buried the shot into the back of the net for his second goal of the year.
“Me, Kenny and Antoine were cycling the puck,” Bourbonais said. “We made some good plays and we ended up with a 2–0 advantage in front of the net. Kenny gave me a great pass and I just put it in the back of net.”
VICTORY OVER UNION
After a defensive struggle against RPI, the Bulldogs unleashed a high octane offense against Union on Saturday.
Part of this was due to the return of Dan Otto ’12. Forced to sit out his first three seasons at Yale due to a string of injuries and failed surgeries, the senior right-winger scored two goals in his sixth collegiate game to lead the Bulldogs (4–1–1, 3–1 ECAC) to a 4–0 win over No. 9 Union (5–3–3, 2–2).
“A lot of people would’ve given up and focused on school, but he was determined to get back in the lineup and play hockey, if only for this last year,” Brockett said. “To see him not only get in the lineup and play but to be able to come in and contribute, it’s a great feeling. As a teammate and close friend, you love to see something like that.”
The Elis scored all four of their goals in the first 23 minutes of the game and held off a relentless Dutchmen offensive onslaught for the next two periods. Malcolm made a career-high 45 saves for the Bulldogs and notched his third straight shutout.
“I’m just having fun making the sa“When you have one of the best power plays in the nation on the other team and you’re able to hold them to no power play goals, it’s a good feeling,” Brockett said. “The penalty kill has been working really well for us, and we’re all working as a unit back there starting with Malcolm.”
The Bulldogs’ special team units have now killed 26 penalties on 27 attempts, best among all Division I schools.
With 10 minutes left in the game, Union enjoyed a two-man advantage as O’Neill and Colin Dueck ’12 were sent to the penalty box for slashing and kneeing, respectively. But the Dutchmen struggled to move the puck in the offensive zone and came up empty.
Union outshot Yale by a staggering 38–10 margin in the final two periods but could not get the puck past an impenetrable Malcolm, who now leads the nation with a .960 save percentage.
The Bulldogs will come back to Ingalls Rink on Nov. 19 to take on the UConn Huskies.