February 19th, 2012 | Sports

M. HOCKEY | Bulldogs throttle Harvard at Ingalls

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Photo by Sharon Yin.

On senior night, the men’s hockey team did what it does best: score goals.

The Bulldogs (12–13–2, 9–10–1 ECAC) dominated the tempo of the game from the beginning, scoring three goals in the opening period, and throttled the visiting Harvard Crimson (8–7–11, 6–4–9) 7–1. Captain Brian O’Neill ’12 notched three assists and forward Kenny Agostino ’14 finished with two goals and two assists, the third time this season he has had multiple goals in a game. Head coach Keith Allain ’80 said he was pleased with the team’s effort over the weekend.

“I think it’s been our best weekend of the year, certainly at home,” Allain said. “To get the sweep was big, and we go on the road feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

8:46 into the game, O’Neill gave the sold-out crowd at Ingalls Rink a lesson on puck handling. As the Bulldogs’ first power play winded down, the senior forward sprinted into the slot, drawing three defenders toward him. O’Neill then quickly passed the puck to a waiting Antoine Laganiere ’13 who knocked it in for the opening goal.

The Elis kept their red-hot offense rolling less than a minute later. Agostino skated down the right side of the rink and sent the puck across the ice to Andrew Miller ’13, who squeezed the puck past Crimson goalie Steve Michalek to widen the Elis’ lead to 2–0. Agostino said that the Bulldogs’ strong transition offense was accountable for much of their success this weekend.

“Transition hockey is so big in college hockey, and we capitalized on transitions numerous times,” Agostino said. “That’s how we got a lot of our goals this weekend.”

With less than two minutes left in the opening period, as Harvard struggled to set up its offense in front the Yale net, Agostino slipped behind the Crimson unnoticed. Laganiere took possession of the puck and sent it to a wide-open Agostino for the easy breakaway goal. The Elis ended the opening period with a 12–3 lead in shots on goal.

In a desperate attempt to score, the Crimson pulled Michalek off the ice for an extra skater with less than a minute to go in the opening frame. But the gamble paid off in an unexpected way.

Miller and defenseman Nick Jaskowiak ’12 were called for holding and elbowing, respectively, with 24 seconds left in the first period. This gave the Crimson a two-man advantage and Danny Beiga scored 23 seconds into the second period to pull Harvard within two.

But the Bulldogs answered a minute and a half later as forward Kevin Limbert ’12 scored on a breakaway to give the Elis a 4–1 lead. Allain said Limbert’s goal was a pivotal moment in the game.

“For us to answer the way we did was huge,” Allain said. “When they scored it was a potetntial for the momentum and the game to slip into their favor, but I think with Limbert’s goal, we put our hands right around it again.”

Tempers flared as the Crimson players increasingly favored an aggressive and undisciplined play style. In a span of three minutes, the referees whistled seven penalties, five of which were assigned to the Cantabs.

The Crimson finished the game with 13 penalties while the Bulldogs had eight of their own.

The momentum swung back in Yale’s favor as Agostino took advantage of the chaos and scored an unassisted power play goal 8:48 into the second period, putting the Elis ahead by 5–1. Michalek was pulled in favor of Raphael Girard after the play.

Ten different Yale players finished the game with at least one point. Limbert attributed the high-flying attack to Yale’s skaters having more awareness around the net.

“People are putting the extra effort in and making a solid tape-to-tape pass, and the receiver on the other hand too is ready to shoot the puck,” Limbert said. “I think everyone is making crisp passes and is ready to release the puck as soon as its on their stick.”

The Elis’ night was only marred by Chad Ziegler’s ’12 game misconduct penalty after being called for delivering a hit to the head. The penalty resulted in an automatic ejection with 4:24 left before the second intermission. But the Crimson could not score another goal even with the five-minute power play chance.

“That was just a great kill,” Allain said. “That’s the number one power play in the country, and they had five minutes. We used six players, we kept it short, we kept it hurried and we stuck to the plan and blocked some shots.”

With 1:29 left in the game, Limbert tallied his second goal of the night after off a rebound by Matt Killian ’15. 1:14 later, Agostino fed forward Anthony Day ’15 for the latter’s first collegiate goal.

The Elis will be back in action next weekend when they travel to Princeton and nearby Quinnipiac for their final regular season contests of 2012.