MEN’S HOCKEY: Yale beats Brown

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Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

The No. 10 men’s hockey team split a home and away series with Brown this weekend with a 3–1 loss in Providence before a 6–0 win at a packed Ingalls Rink on Saturday night.

The Bears (8–8–3, 5–6–1 ECAC) powered to victory at home with two third-period goals while the Bulldogs (10–5–4, 5–4–3 ECAC) rode four power-play goals to victory the following night. Yale, who lost the season opener to Brown 4–1 back on Oct. 25, remains two points above the Bears at sixth place in the ECAC standings.

“It’s tough to win in our league and obviously we weren’t happy with the loss on Friday night feeling as if we beat ourselves,” defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16 said. “As an athlete you love having the opportunity to seek revenge so getting the win on Saturday was fulfilling and it’s a step in the right direction as a team.”

The Friday night matchup was a showcase for two of the league’s hottest freshman goaltenders, featuring Yale’s Alex Lyon ’17 and Brown’s Tyler Steel. Coming into the matchup, the Bears’ goalkeeper had started six of Brown’s last seven games after alternating games for most of the first half of the season with senior Marco DeFilippo. In those last seven games, the rookie helped the Bears to three wins and posted a .917 save percentage. Lyon ranks 17th and 19th in the nation in goals against average and save percentage, respectively. His efforts have brought the Bulldogs four wins in the last six games.

The first period was evenly contested, with Lyon and Steel stopping nine and 13 shots, respectively. Lyon was on hand to deny the Bears on three power-play opportunities, while Steel was alert to stop center Stu Wilson ’16 on a breakaway and forward John Hayden ’16 on a rebound attempt. Defender Rob O’Gara ’16, on the penalty kill, did well to deny Brown a 2-on-1 opportunity with just 20 seconds left in the opening frame.

The second period opened with more pressure from Brown and its persistence eventually paid off when sophomore sensation Mark Naclerio flew up the right wing and centered the puck for his linemate Matt Lorito, who tipped a shot in past Lyon. Naclerio has been red hot as of late, posting 10 points in his last five games, and has been playing on one of the most underrated lines in college hockey. Naclerio, Nick Lappin and Lorito lead the team with 25, 23, and 21 points respectively.

The Bulldogs, however, bounced right back when Kenny Agostino ’14 lit the lamp on the power play just over 30 seconds later. Yale’s sniper found the back of the net off a one timer from a tight angle on the right circle. The goal was Agostino’s 50th of his collegiate career.

The rest of the second period was marred by Yale penalties, as forward Frankie DiChiara ’17 was whistled for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit from behind with six minutes left in the frame. The Bulldogs were able to kill off the penalty and enter the second intermission tied at 1–1. Lyon and Steel each played well turning aside 13 shots apiece and setting the stage for a crucial third period.

With four minutes gone in the last frame, Brown forward Kyle Kramer scored on a long wrist shot from the blue line. Kramer seemed to rather aimlessly throw the puck at the net, but Lyon was screened in front and never saw the puck. A minute and a half later forward Zach Pryzbek finished off a nice centering pass from Brown captain Dennis Robertson to take a two-goal lead that stunned Yale.

Yale had two further power-play opportunities and despite 17 third period shots, Steel stood firm in net to deny the Bulldogs. Steel finished the night with 42 saves. Lyon stopped 25 shots in the loss, which featured an uncharacteristic number of penalties. The Bulldogs were whistled for six infractions for 23 minutes on the night but average just nine per game, the sixth least in NCAA Division I.

“For the most part we’d been playing well, but a few defensive breakdowns led to those goals against,” forward Charles Orzetti ’16 said in an email. “It’s frustrating when that happens, but the takeaway is that every play we need to be executing because every play has the chance to become the difference maker in a game — good or bad.”

After facing off in Providence, the Bulldogs and Bears travelled down to New Haven to play a quick rematch at Ingalls Rink the next evening. In another penalty-filled game on Saturday night, Yale bounced back with a big 6–0 win against Brown, thanks in part to special teams scoring and a shutout performance from Lyon. The Bulldogs scored three straight power-play goals in the first period to put the game on ice and rode Lyon’s 28 saves — including 12 in a relatively even second period — to victory.

The Eli power play came into the game scoring on only 17 percent of its opportunities but took advantage of a 5-on-3 situation to score the opening goal. Brown forward Pryzbek was given a game misconduct and dismissed from the game just a minute and 30 seconds into the night after a hit from behind on Yale defender Alex Ward ’15. Just over a minute later, Robertson was whistled for tripping. On the resulting two-man advantage defenseman Tommy Fallen ’15 found the back of the net from the top of the right circle on a low wrist shot.

Steel, after an impressive performance the night before, should have been gravely disappointed in giving up what was a soft goal to Fallen. But that goal was not the end of a bad night for Steel, who saw his net breached just 30 seconds later. Still on the powerplay from Pryzbek’s five minute major, O’Gara poked home the puck after a scramble in front. To add insult to injury, the refs whistled Brown for a hooking penalty on the same play.

“Our power play worked the puck around great and found our chances while the penalty kill did a great job forcing the opponent to make hurried and forced plays that were not ideal,” Fallen said.

On the Bulldogs’ second 5-on-3—still less than five minutes into the game — Fallen popped up in an identical spot to his last goal and unleashed a well-placed wrist shot that beat Steel, who was screened on the play.

Yale’s smooth–skating blueliner tallied his second of the game, matching a career–high of two goals scored on Nov. 8 against Princeton.

“It certainly helps when you have so many power play chances in a game, especially 5-on-3 to get the power play going,” Obuchowski said. “In Saturday’s game we simplified everything and didn’t force plays. We took what the defense game us and got shots to the net.”

Brown pulled Steel after he gave up three goals on seven shots in favor of the senior DeFilippo. The new goalkeeper, however, did not fare much better, as Agostino scored a brilliant unassisted goal to make it a 4–0 Yale lead with seven minutes left to play in the first. The Calgary Flames prospect intercepted the puck inside Brown’s zone and skated towards the net. While holding off one of the Bears’ defenders, Yale’s premier left winger threw a backhanded shot at net that beat DeFilippo five-hole.

The game would hardly improve for Brown from there on out, as forward Massimo Lamacchia was sent to the locker room and assessed a five-minute major for slew-footing. With the penalty, the Bears would have to skate more than two periods without two players on their bench after two game misconducts in the first period. Brown amassed 36 penalty minutes on seven infractions in the opening frame alone.

After Yale’s dominance in the first 20 minutes, Brown regrouped for the second period and looked determined to take something from the game. The Bears piled on the pressure on Lyon’s net, forcing the rookie into 12 saves in the second frame. Yale’s goaltender remained resolute throughout the period, keeping out a number of gilt-edged chances.

The third period was no better for Brown. The Bears looked dejected coming out of the locker room and their play was epitomized by DeFilippo’s poor performance throughout the final 20 minutes. The senior had poor control of his rebounds and looked shaky throughout the frame.  His struggles started just 28 seconds after the puck drop when defenseman Gus Young’s ’15 shot from the blueline nestled in the back of the net for a 5—0 lead.

DeFilippo struggled to deal with the Bulldogs’ 18 shots in the period and always looked likely to again concede. Agostino eventually took advantage after nice work from his linemate on the power play. With just over two minutes remaining, captain Jesse Root ’14 streaked into the zone and centered it for Agostino, who tapped the puck home for his second of the night.

Lyon played another solid period, stopping a further 11 shots for his first collegiate shutout. The rookie has been averaging a .938 save percentage since returning from break.

“Lyon has been playing really well for us and making huge saves to give us a chance to win,” Obuchowski said. “He’s definitely established himself as a top-tier college goaltender. It makes playing defense easier knowing you have a guy back there that will make big saves when you need it.”

The 6–0 win was a record-setting day for the Bulldogs. It was the largest margin of victory for Yale since a 6–0 thrashing of Cornell in the ECAC Championships in March of 2011. The Bulldog power play went four of 10, its best showing since December 2012, when the Elis put four past the Bears.

Root had a career-high night with five assists, while Obuchowski also set a personal best with three helpers. Agostino continued his hot streak, putting up 11 points in the last 10 games.

“Going forward, sticking to our team systems and philosophies will set us up for a strong playoff run,” Orzetti said. “The evidence is there that when we play aggressive and smart, we’re a team that can successfully attack. When we stray away from our tenets, that seems to be when we’re not at our best. If we commit to doing what works for us, we’re confident that we can have some success over the next few weeks and heading into playoffs.”

The Bulldogs sit 18th in the pairwise rakings and will need a strong second-half push in order to secure a playoff spot. The Elis play only ECAC matchups the rest of the season and can shoot up the ECAC standings in the coming weeks, with three of their next four games against opponents ahead of them in the league table.

Yale will play both games at home this weekend, facing off against No. 12 Cornell on Friday evening before taking on Colgate on Saturday. The puck drops for both games at 7 p.m.

 

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