While the men’s hockey team’s 1-2-1 record over winter break might not be stellar for some squads, it is something to be proud of for the Bulldogs.

The Elis (2-13-1, 2-10 ECACHL) finally got their second victory with a 2-1 win over Clarkson Saturday at Ingalls Rink. It was sweet revenge for the Bulldogs, who lost 8-1 to the Knights on New Year’s Day in the consolation game of the Badger Showdown in Wisconsin. The Bulldogs had to play the Knights after a tie with then-No. 4 Wisconsin on New Year’s Eve. The Elis played a strong defensive game to hold the Badgers to a 1-1 draw during regulation, but then lost to them 3-2 in the sudden-death shootout. The Bulldogs also lost to St. Lawrence on Friday at the Whale 6-4, despite going goal-for-goal until the end of the second period.

The overarching theme for winter break was penalties. When the Elis killed penalties well, they had success on the ice. But when they allowed too many power-play goals, they could not find a way to win. This trend was perhaps best exemplified in the win versus the Knights.

“We did a great job on the penalty kill and had tremendous goaltending,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “When we killed that five-minute major [penalty], it was an absolutely huge lift for the team.”

Because of the defensive play by the Bulldogs and the goaltending by Matt Modelski ’07, the Knights finished 0-for-8 on the power play. The lone goal that the Knights tallied came during a Yale power-play opportunity when Clarkson got a breakaway and Brodie Ruthergle’s shot bounced out to Steve Zalewski, who put it past Modelski’s right shoulder with a wrist shot. Modelski finished with 32 saves.

At that point, though, the Elis had already scored two goals. The first was a short-handed goal by forward Brad Mills ’07. Seven minutes into the second period with the game scoreless, the Elis were a man down because of a five-minute major boarding penalty on forward Christian Jensen ’06. Considering how erratic the Yale penalty-kill unit has been, there were some doubts that the Bulldogs would escape unscathed. But the crowd soon had something to cheer about when Mills broke away from the Clarkson players and sent the puck past the Knights’ Kyle McNulty from 12 feet out to kill the penalty and light the lamp.

“It was real exciting,” Mills said. “I took one stride to the middle and opened up to the top corner. It gave us confidence and it was a big momentum shift.”

The second goal for the Elis came shortly thereafter in the second. Nate Jackson ’06 sent a pass to winger David Germain ’08 at center ice. Germain saw Robert Burns ’07 on the other side and gave him a quick lead pass. Burns then deked the Knight netminder and put it past him for his first career goal.

The Bulldogs never relinquished the lead after that, although it took some tough defensive play and good shot-blocking by the defense in the third period as Clarkson outshot Yale 14 to six.

“I feel like we got on our heels playing prevent D,” Mills said. “We did limit their grade-A scoring chances and kept their shots to the outside. We outskated them and outworked them tonight.”

Taylor said the final period was crucial in the win.

“We didn’t handle the third [period] yesterday as well as we did tonight,” Taylor said. “I really felt the team came together.”

On Friday versus the Saints, the Elis slipped up in the third period, allowing a sixth goal that took the game out of reach. Most of the game was close with both teams finding ways through their opposing defenders. The Bulldogs jumped on the Saints early, scoring two goals within the first two minutes. The first was a Mills goal with assists from Jensen and Joe Zappala ’06. The second was a tally from Jackson with assists from Burns and Jean-Francois Boucher ’08. The Elis were off to a good start, but the Saints came back to tie the score by the end of the first period. The second featured more goal trading, with Jensen and Jackson lighting the lamp for the Bulldogs. But the Saints’ Adam Hogg wristed one past Modelski with less than three minutes left in the second for the go-ahead goal.

The Elis tried to come back and tie the game in the third, but only had two shots on goal compared to the Saints’ 14. St. Lawrence’s last goal came during a power play. The Saints finished 4-for-10 on the power play, while the Bulldogs were 2-for-5.

“We take too many penalties and we don’t kill enough,” Jensen said. “We are far too inconsistent. It’s like we are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and we bring both faces usually. It’s almost like we play too well and get comfortable, which is a horrible habit.”

Jensen finished with a total of two assists and one goal for three points.

Jackson said he was frustrated by the loss.

“We can compete with any team,” Jackson said. “The biggest thing is blocking shots. They blocked, but we just kind of lunged. Modelski played a hell of a game, but he can’t stop it if he can’t see it.”

Besides the game, Yale also suffered a loss when forward Brad Mayer ’06 severely dislocated his shoulder. Taylor said that doctors will examine him further to determine the extent of the damage but that he will probably be out at least one week.

Like the two games at home this weekend, the games at the Badger Showdown in Madison, Wis. were both good and bad. As a team with only one win at the time, there were few expectations about the game versus the Badgers Jan. 31. But the Bulldogs came out strong and played quality defense for 60 minutes as they limited Wisconsin to a lone goal. The game was scoreless until the third period as each goaltender made the needed saves. The Elis’ one score came after a Mills shot bounced out to Zappala, who one-timed the puck past Wisconsin’s keeper Elliot. Modelski got beat when Joe Pavelski blasted a shot past him less than two minutes later.

At the end of regulation the score was tied, earning the Elis a draw on their record. Then the game went into a first round shoot-out and then a sudden death shoot-out. Jensen, who beat Elliot with a nifty right-to-left deke, and Mills scored for the Elis but the Badgers tied it up before the game went into sudden death. After saves by Modelski and Elliot and a missed shot, Andrew Joudrey put one past Modelski for Wisconsin, advancing the Badgers into the championship game.

After the exhausting game against Wisconsin, the Elis had to face Clarkson only 16 hours later. Outshooting the Bulldogs 21-5 in the first period, the Knights got five goals past Josh Gartner ’06 including two power play tallies. The Knights scored once more on Gartner in the second before he was injured and replaced by Peter Cohen ’05. The Bulldogs also lost defenseman Chris Brooks ’06 to an injury in the second.

The only goal for the Bulldogs came in the third period when Jeff Hristovski ’06 fired the puck over McNulty’s left shoulder. The Elis were outshot 48-31 in the loss.

Despite the ups and downs of winter break, the recent win may help the Bulldogs gear up for Tuesday’s game against No. 3 Boston College (11-3-3).

Taylor said he wants the team to use the ice the way they did against Clarkson by getting through the neutral zone with speed.

“Hopefully it should work against any opponent,” Taylor said. “[Boston College] is a big assignment. Right now we just need to rest and take care of ourselves.”

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”16726″ ]