For any hockey player, nothing is better than scoring the winning goal — especially when that goal is his first of the season, snaps a five-game losing streak and secures his team the 2012-’13 Ivy League Championship.
Freshman forward Carson Cooper ’16 did just that with 1:56 left on the clock in Saturday’s crucial 4–3 win over Princeton (9–14–4, 7–10–3 ECAC). After Friday’s disappointing 4–1 loss to No. 1 Quinnipiac, the No. 13 Bulldogs (14–10–3, 10–9–1) managed to break their recent skid with their first win since Feb. 1, when they bested the Tigers 4–2 at Ingalls Rink.
“It felt pretty incredible,” Cooper said. “I’ve been waiting to finally score this season and to have it be the game-winner was awesome.”
The Bow Island, Alberta native tipped in the winning shot past Tigers goalie Mike Condon off an assist from defender Tommy Fallen ’15. The sophomore also assisted forward Anthony Day’s ’15 goal 8:09 into the first period and scored one of his own half a minute later for a three-point game.
Princeton also scored twice to close the first period at 2–2 and the second frame was scoreless, leaving the game to be decided in the third. The Tigers scored at 9:12 in the final period but defender Ryan Obuchowski ’16 quickly evened the scoreboard less than two minutes later. The first goal of Cooper’s college career came at 18:04, clinching the win for the Bulldogs and earning them the Ivy League Title for the third time in the past four years.
Goalie Jeff Malcolm ’13 was back on the ice for the first time on Saturday since the Feb. 1 win against Princeton when he suffered an injury early in the game. He made 17 saves as Yale outshot its opponent 28–21.
Cooper said the team was happy to have Malcolm back after his five-game hiatus.
“He’s a fun guy who brings energy to the team,” Cooper said. “It’s the same with any teammate — you want them to come back and be healthy as soon as possible.”
Saturday’s sold-out game was certainly a turnaround from Friday night, when the Bulldogs fell for the second time this season to cross-town rival Quinnipiac (23–4–5, 16–1–3). Malcolm was still off the roster, but Connor Wilson ’15 played for the first period and Nick Maricic ’13 filled in for the second and third.
Yale fell behind 3–0 in the first period despite matching the Bobcats with 11 shots. The Bulldogs had a number of opportunities in the second period, but could not capitalize on any of them and trailed by three heading into the final frame.
In the third period, forward Kenny Agostino ’14 scored his 13th goal of the year, but when the team pulled Maricic for an extra man with 90-seconds left in the game, Quinnipiac got an easy empty-netter for the 4–1 win. The Bobcats barely outshot the Bulldogs, 35–31.
Quinnipiac has already clinched the ECAC conference title and is ranked first in the NCAA. After this weekend, Yale moved up from fifth to fourth in the conference and is tied with Dartmouth (13–10–4, 9–8–3). All 12 teams in the ECAC qualify for the playoffs but the top four teams earn first-round byes. The Bulldogs also rose into 11th place in the USCHO.com PairWise rankings, which mirrors the formula used by the NCAA Selection Committee to determine participants in the NCAA Tournament.
Head coach Keith Allain ’80 said that since the team has not won in a few weeks, the Elis’ effort to battle from behind to win in the third period of Saturday’s game was a “true testament to the character of the locker room.”
“The win was tremendous for team moral,” forward Antoine Laganiere ’13 said. “For sure after a few losses confidence starts dwindling. But we showed a lot of mental strength to overcome this and we all feel better going into the playoffs.”
Next weekend, the Bulldogs will play Colgate and Cornell at home, hoping to secure a first-round bye in the last weekend of conference play before the ECAC playoffs begin.