After achieving an outstanding four-for-seven power play success rate before a sold out attendance of 3,500 in last Saturday’s match against Brown, the No. 15 men’s hockey team can now boast the eighth most effective power play in the country.
Although scoring 10 out of 42 times may not sound impressive, the 23.8 percent success rate Yale has enjoyed on the power play is a higher percentage than that of any NHL team last season and would have put the Bulldogs in fifth place in the NCAA last year. Although the Bulldogs (6–2–1, 3–2 ECAC) rely on intricate systems and set plays, they prefer a much simpler strategy for power plays.
“We don’t have any set plays,” team captain and third leading scorer Andrew Miller ’13 said. “Our goal is to make the available pass and take advantage of the extra space.”
That extra space allowed Miller to score the game-tying goal last Saturday.
By spreading out Brown’s penalty killers in a five-on-three situation, Yale was able to create open ice around the point — Miller’s post on the power play. Miller was then able to skate down the middle of the ice uncontested and rip a shot past Bears goaltender Marco DeFilippo to tie the game.
The success of the power play might seem to come naturally to the Bulldogs, but leading scorer Antoine Laganiere ’13 said the team has been working on it for months. The Bulldogs have also honed the intangibles, such as a sense of where teammates are on the ice, in addition to physical skills. Forward and second leading scorer Kenny Agostino ’14 and other team members said team chemistry is crucial for the Elis’ continued success.
“We’ve had the same groups for a while,” Laganiere said. “Chemistry is starting to develop on the power play.”
While the team’s overtime wins against No. 6 Denver and Brown are an encouraging start for the Bulldog power play, they still have work to do.
Last week in an interview before the Brown game, head coach Keith Allain said the Bulldogs could improve their power play and gain momentum each time they are given the opportunity. The power play is a constant work in progress for the Bulldogs, regardless of how successful they have been.
The Bulldogs struggled on power play faceoffs early in the season, but they worked out the flaws and were able to excel on faceoffs and forcing pressure in their game against Brown.
“We were able to score because our centers did such a great job on faceoffs and we had good traffic in front of the net,” Miller said. “Those are two key aspects to scoring on the power play.”
As the Elis take on Union, who made it to the Frozen Four last season, the power play will be essential. The Dutchmen are currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA on the power play, going 16–for–55 with a percentage of 29.09. The Elis will also have to overcome Union’s No. 5 penalty killing squad.
“As the season moves along, the power play becomes more crucial,” Agostino said. “It’s obviously something we’ll harp on in practice this week.”
The Elis will take on Union this Friday at Ingalls Rink.