A loss to archrival Harvard and a tie against last-place Brown was not exactly what the men’s hockey team had in mind for the ECAC’s final regular-season weekend, but it was still enough to claim a third Ivy League championship in four years.
The Bulldogs (14-14-1, 10-10-1) finished the season in eighth place in the ECAC, but they will get a shot to redeem this weekend’s ignominious performance with a best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series at third-place Harvard next weekend.
Yale’s 6-4 loss Friday at the Bright Center brought its record to a dismal 1-18-3 since the Cambridge, Mass., rink opened in 1979. But the Bulldogs suffered their biggest loss of the weekend before they even left New Haven.
During a breakaway workout at Thursday’s practice, Peter Toomey ’01 lost control and cascaded into Eli goalie Dan Lombard ’02, breaking Lombard’s ribs in the process. Doctors later informed Lombard, who had started every game for the Bulldogs since the end of last year’s regular season, that he had a punctured lung and could not make the trip.
Freshman goaltender Peter Dobrowolski ’04 got the call both nights for the Elis, making the first two starts of his Yale career.
But it was Brown goalie Brian Eklund who deserved all the headlines for Saturday night’s 3-3 tie.
Eklund registered 48 saves on the night, including a remarkable 23 in the game’s final period.
The Bears shocked the 1,200 fans at the Meehan Auditorium by taking a 3-1 lead into the final stanza, but Luke Earl ’02 and Ryan Steeves ’04 each scored for Yale in the first half of the period to tie up the game.
No one was able to solve either Eklund or Dobrowolski the rest of the way, though, as the Elis skated to their first tie of the season.
The tie gave the Bulldogs 13 Ivy points on the season, good enough to edge Harvard and Cornell by a point for the crown.
“It’s pretty special for these kids,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “I’m really proud that [the senior class] has gotten to wear the crown three times in four years.”
Dobrowolski got the first start of his Yale career Friday in a game that Taylor called the most important Harvard-Yale game of his coaching career.
The Crimson jumped all over the freshman, firing 19 shots at him in the first period and netting three goals. Ken Turano, Chris Bala and Dominic Moore all lit the lamp for Harvard, giving the Cantabs a 3-0 advantage 12:12 into the game.
The Yale offense quickly came roaring back with three goals of its own, as Earl tallied on the power play and Adam Sauve ’01 put in a pair to tie the game at three.
The streaky scoring continued, as Brett Nowak and Harry Schwefel scored back-to-back goals to put Harvard up 5-3 at the end of the second period.
But Crimson goaltender Oliver Jonas stepped up in the final period, stopping 15 of 16 Yale shots in a stanza marked by a number of great Eli scoring chances.
Evan Wax ’03 put in Yale’s only goal of the period at 10:58, and Tim Pettit iced things for Harvard with an empty-netter at 19:04.
Jonas recorded 33 saves on the night and claimed first-star honors for the Crimson, who secured the ECAC third seed with Friday’s win over Yale and a tie against Princeton Saturday.
Clarkson clinched the ECAC title with a 4-2 win over Dartmouth Saturday. The Golden Knights will host Vermont, St. Lawrence will host Union, Princeton will go to Cornell, Rensselaer will visit Dartmouth in next weekend’s opening round of playoffs. Yale and Harvard will duke it out next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, if necessary at the Bright Center starting at 7 p.m. on all three nights (WYBC-AM 1340).
The winners of the quarterfinal series will head to Lake Placid, N.Y., for the ECAC Championships starting March 15. The ECAC tournament winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.