Despite dominating its game on Saturday, the No. 9 men’s hockey team suffered a post-turkey hangover, needing an overtime goal to sneak by Merrimack 3–2 at Ingalls. Forward Chris Izmirlian ’17 tallied the game winner with 45 seconds remaining in overtime.
“It was a great team win and reassured us that we need to keep with our systems,” defenseman Mitch Witek ’16 said. “Games like that can frustrate teams into playing a different style but we were consistent and that paid off in the end.”
Yale (6–2–2, 3–1–2 ECAC) held the advantage in shots in the first period, 13–3, but went into the first intermission down a goal after Warrior forward Hampus Gustafsson tallied just four minutes into the opening frame.
The second period was scoreless, despite powerplay opportunities for both sides. In his seventh start of the year, netminder Alex Lyon ’17 made eight saves in the second 20 minutes to keep Merrimack (3–9–1, 0-5–1 HEA) from adding to its advantage.
The Bulldogs finally broke through two minutes into the third period on a highlight reel goal by defenseman Gus Young ’14. The blueliner held off a Warrior defender, controlled the puck off the boards and put it between another player’s legs towards the net. Coming in off the goal line, Young went to his backhand, where he evaded another player on his knees and unleashed a shot that found its way past goaltender Rasmus Tirronen for the tying goal.
But Merrimack scored nine seconds later to regain the lead with Gustafsson tallying his second of the game.
Yale failed to take advantage of a man advantage at 4:59 in the third. The power play unit went 0–4 on the night, continuing its dismal start to the season. The Bulldogs have scored on 0.191 percent of its opportunities thus far.
The Elis again tied the game with under eight minutes remaining thanks to another blueliner. Boston Bruins draft pick Rob O’Gara ’16 lit the lamp with a wrister from the right circle after some nice work by teammate Michael Doherty ’17. The freshman streaked into the zone and took a shot from the left side of the ice, which was pushed aside. Doherty picked up his own rebound, skated behind the net and found O’Gara skating into the zone for an open shot. O’Gara put the puck home, top shelf.
Despite peppering Merrimack’s net with 15 shots in the third, Tirronen remained firm for the Warriors and denied Yale a further goal, sending the game into sudden death overtime.
The Bulldogs, who did not have a lead before overtime, got the win with under a minute to play in the contest. DiChiara, who had just stepped on the ice after a change, intercepted a pass at the opposing blue line after an attempted clearance. The forward skated in towards the net, drawing two defenders, and dished the puck to Izmirilan. The Highland Beach, Fla. native let go a wrist shot that deflected off Tirronen’s glove and landed behind the goaltender. Izmirlian was the first to react, following up his shot and poking the puck home for the win.
“Izzy’s goal was very clutch,” Witek said. “It was great to see a freshman step up and make a play like that in overtime. We are very happy with the win. We played good hockey for the majority of the game, we just weren’t catching any break on the scoreboard.”
Yale dominated the game in terms of shots, outshooting Merrimack 34–15.
Lyon picked up his third win of the year and ended the night with 13 saves. The freshman started his fifth straight game after splitting time with fellow freshman netminder Patrick Spano ’17 at the start of the season. He ranks in the top 25 in the nation in both goals against average and save percentage.
“Lyon has been phenomenal for us,” forward Carson Cooper ’16 said. “Knowing he’s back there gives us real confidence in games.”
Yale came out on top despite many of its stars being injured. Root missed the game, as did superstar defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16.
Forwards Anthony Day ’15 and Nicholas Weberg ’15 missed their third and sixth consecutive games, respectively.
“We had a couple of key guys out of the lineup, but other guys stepped up and played very well for us,” forward Carson Cooper ’16 said. “Merrimack is a very good team and they play a hard style of game. We played very well throughout the game except for a few times that led to their goals.
With his assist on O’Gara’s game-tying goal in the third period, Doherty now leads the Bulldogs in points with nine on the year. The freshman has registered points in five of the last six games after being paired with top line forwards Kenny Agostino ’14 and captain Jesse Root ’14.
The Bulldogs return to ECAC play next weekend with a home slate, facing Dartmouth on Friday night and Harvard on Saturday night. The puck will drop for both games at 7:00 p.m. at Ingalls.