Despite getting clobbered in a 9-4 loss to Dartmouth Nov. 21 at Ingalls Rink, the men’s ice hockey team rebounded with a vengeance on the following night with a 6-4 win against University of Vermont.
Against the then-undefeated Big Green (3-0-3, 4-1-4 ECAC), the Elis couldn’t contain talented sophomore forward Hugh Jessiman, who netted four goals and recorded an assist in the Dartmouth victory.
However, it was the Bulldogs who put themselves on the scoreboard first.
Eli forward Joe Zappala ’06 received a pass from behind the Dartmouth net and fired a shot on goal. Though Big Green netminder Dan Yacey stopped the shot, he was not able to corral the rebound. The puck bounced back to Zappala who launched wrist shot over Yacey’s shoulder at 3:38 in the first period.
The Eli lead was short-lived, as the Bulldog penalty kill unit gave up a goal to Dartmouth defenseman Grant Lewis four minutes later.
“Penalty killing has been a problem all year, it has been inconsistent,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “One of the most important penalty killers you have is your goaltender, I think we have been inconsistent in that position and it has hurt our penalty kill.”
On the power play, the Elis turned the puck over at center ice which led to a tally by Big Green forward Mike Turner at 10:46 in the first.
In the second period, Jessiman dominated the Bulldogs, scoring three consecutive goals to give Dartmouth a commanding 5-1 lead. Jessiman opened the scoring at 6:45 off a pass from forward Eric Przepiorka. After Przepiorka and Jessiman teamed up again at 8:45, Taylor made a goalie change, calling on Peter Cohen ’05 to step in between the pipes.
However, Taylor’s maneuverings did not stop Jessiman, who tallied again at 15:15 before Zappala finally answered with his second goal of the game at 19:32.
The third period was much the same as Dartmouth scored twice on the power play and twice at even strength. The Eli power play was successful as well, as Jeff Hristovski ’06 and Nathan Murphy ’04.
But Yale’s offense was no match for for Jessiman and the potent Big Green.
“After [the Dartmouth] game, coming into the rink the next night, everyone knew what we had to do,” captain Vin Hellemeyer ’04 said. “Everyone gets a little angry. We came in Saturday night mad about the night before and ready to do something about it.”
The Elis’ anger propelled them to a 6-4 win over a struggling Vermont team (0-10-2, 0-6-0). Zappala continued on his scoring spree, recording a hat trick and an assist.
Yale’s penalty kill continued to struggle after Joe Callahan ’05 was whistled just 22 seconds into the game for interference. The UVM Catamounts took advantage and got on the board first with a power play goal from forward Tim Plant, whose shot was stopped by Eli goalie Matt Modelski ’07. However, the puck’s momentum caused it to trickle over the line.
The Elis tied the game at 11:36, when Murphy took a pass from Nick Shalek ’05 and fired a shot on UVM goalie Travis Russell who made the initial save. Murphy followed up his shot and backhanded in the rebound.
The Catamounts regained the lead with another power-play goal from forward Joey Gasparini at 17:21.
In the second period, the Bulldogs responded as Zappala notched the first of his three goals at 2:56.
With a man advantage, Yale was able to take the lead for the first time when Zappala fired a crossing pass to Ryan Steeves ’04 who one-timed the puck past Russell at 6:11.
“Our power play has been getting a little better,” Taylor said. “We are spending more time in the offensive zone, and it’s starting to come alive.”
The Catamounts broke Yale’s penalty kill again at 9:15, with a goal from forward Evan Stoflet. Late in the third period, Callahan put the Bulldogs back on top with his first goal of the season off a Hellemeyer pass.
As the game wound down, both teams found themselves with a man in the box and playing four-on-four. UVM pulled Russell from the net to gain an extra skater. Zappala took advantage of the empty net to complete his hat trick at 19:57.
The Bulldogs contributed much of their success to the fiery play of Zappala, who leads the Elis with seven goals on the season.
“Zappala had a great stretch that weekend in terms of his production,” Taylor said. “He was a crucial part of our victory over Vermont. He scored goals in a variety of different ways. He’s a very hungry offensive player.”
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”18731″ ]