The loss of the Yale men’s ice hockey team’s two leading scorers from last season did not slow down the Bulldog attack Sunday at Ingalls Rink.
In its first and only exhibition game before this coming weekend’s back-to-back games against nationally ranked No. 4 University of North Dakota (2-1-0), the Bulldogs dominated the University of Guelph 8-3 Sunday. The Elis scored eight goals, three of which came from freshmen.
Guelph, a Canadian university, played their third game in as many days on an American road trip that included losses at Harvard and Princeton.
“We should have been the fresher and faster team, and we were,” head coach Tim Taylor said. “We were moving well. On the whole, to put that many shots on goal is a pretty good sign.”
Despite putting 25 shots on goal and giving up only one in the opening stanza, the Elis entered the first intermission down 1-0.
Shorthanded, Gryphon forward Dylan Furlong picked up the puck at center-ice, beat Yale defenseman Mike Grobe ’06 wide down the left side of the ice, cut in front of the net and beat goalie Josh Gartner ’06 at 11:18 in the first period.
Ryan Trowbridge ’05 had an opportunity to tie the game on a breakaway with 2:30 left in the period, but Gibson stacked the pads, preventing the goal.
Despite their inability to put any of their 25 first-period shots past Guelph goalie Andrew Gibson, the Elis did not get frustrated between periods.
“Their goalie was playing pretty well in the beginning,” captain Vin Hellemeyer ’04 said. “[Our mentality was to] just keep getting shots. We knew something would come.”
Things turned around in a hurry for the Bulldogs.
Forward Jeff Hristovski ’06 helped open the floodgates early in the second period.
Hristovski carried the puck around the bottom of the face-off circle and fed Brad Mills ’07 in front of the net, who rifled a shot past Gibson and tied the game at 2:35.
Twenty-nine seconds later, Hristovski took matters into his own hands, beating Gibson on a wrister low to the stick-side from the top of the right face-off circle.
At 5:39, Mike Klema ’04 put home a rebound off a shot by Joe Zapalla ’06 that hit the post.
At the end of last season, the Elis lost five key members of their offense who combined to average just under four goals per game. The Bulldog’s biggest void to fill will be Chris Higgins ’06, the team’s leading scorer and the ECAC Co-Player of the Year. Higgins has taken an extended leave of absence from school to pursue a career in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens.
“We showed we can score goals without Chris Higgins,” defenseman Jeff Dwyer ’04 said. “It’s a new year, and we’ve got a number of tremendous goal-scorers.”
The Gryphons got within one goal with 1:09 left in the second period when forward Scott Rozendal redirected a cross-ice pass from Jesse Pyatt past a sliding Gartner.
On a power play, with less than one second left in the second frame, Robert Burns ’07 banged in a rebound to regain the two-goal lead for Yale.
“All the freshman showed a lot of maturity,” said forward Brad Mills ’07. “A lot of guys showed their ability to play at this level.”
Yale found success on the power-play, despite not having practiced it extensively in practice. Taylor put players on the ice and told them to move the puck around and shoot, Dwyer said.
Goalie Matt Modelski ’07 replaced Gartner in the final period but gave up a goal on the first shot he faced when Pyatt got the puck wide open in front of the net and brought the Gryphons back within one.
Two goals from Ryan Steeves ’04, who led the team in assists last season with 23, along with goals from Bill LeClerc ’07 and another tally from Hristovski. sealed the victory for Yale.
Four of Yale’s five skating freshmen registered a point in the game.
“I made the decision to dress all of the freshmen so I could look at them,” Taylor said. “I’m very pleased with how they’ve done so far.”
Despite the lopsided win, not everything ran like clockwork for the Bulldogs.
Early in the first period, an errant puck struck near the left temple of goalie Peter Cohen ’05, who was on the bench without a helmet. He was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment on the deep cut on his head, Taylor said. Cohen’s exact condition is unknown.
Yale heads to Grand Forks, N.D., this weekend for a two-game set against the Fighting Sioux. Last year, UND defeated Yale 7-3 at Ingalls Rink in a game that included a brawl, eight ejections and 158 penalty minutes.
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