The men’s hockey team played two highly-ranked teams within one week, but the Yale team that held No. 2 Boston College to just one goal a week ago at home could not recapture the same magic against the University of New Hampshire Saturday.
The Elis (2-15-1) lost 8-2 to the No. 7 Wildcats (15-5-2) in Durham Saturday night, a game that offered a stark contrast to a 1-0 loss to BC four days earlier. Despite skating closely with the Wildcats in the first period, the Bulldogs found themselves down 2-0 at the break. After that, they let any momentum slip away as the Eli defense let up in the second period and allowed five goals. The third period was more successful, and the Elis shut down the strong Wildcat offense except for a last minute power play goal, but the Bulldogs were too far behind to come back at that point.
After playing strong defense against the Eagles last Tuesday, forward Brad Mills ’07 said it was a disappointing game.
“It was frustrating, knowing that we have the ability to play with those teams and not coming up with the effort we needed,” Mills said. “They have a pretty powerful offense and on the big ice surface it was hard to contain their key guys, but I still think we could’ve done a better job.”
The Wildcats started scoring 5:53 into the first when Brian Yandle got a shot past Eli goaltender Matt Modelski ’07. The next goal for UNH came almost 10 minutes later as Sean Collins lit the lamp. With the Elis skating strongly early on, they helped keep Wildcat opportunities down and Modelski made eight saves.
After that, though, things began to slip away for the Bulldogs.
“We played a very good first period, but unfortunately found ourselves behind 2-0,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “We were disheartened to the point that we didn’t compete in the second period. It was maddening.”
Good defense takes a lot of work and if the players do not focus for an entire 60 minutes a good team like New Hampshire is going to score, Taylor said.
“Against Boston College we were unbelievably intense and determined, but that was not the case on Saturday,” Taylor said. “They were not interested or willing to pay the defensive price to be successful. No doubt UNH is a more dangerous team, and, if anything, the defensive intensity required of Yale had to be greater and it was not.”
After four different players scored for the Wildcats in the second period, the Elis finally tallied a goal for themselves. Forwards Christian Jensen ’06 and Joe Zappala ’06 were forechecking in their end when they forced a turnover that was recovered by defenseman Rob Page ’07. He handled the puck before spotting Mills near the net. He sent it well through traffic to Mills, who made a nice backhand move to put it up and over New Hampshire’s net minder Jeff Pietrasiak.
Before the period was over, though, the Wildcats would score once more. Throughout the period they made good use of odd-man rushes as the Elis allowed them too many two-on-one and three-on-two situations.
“UNH plays on an Olympic-size rink and their style of play is based on passing and puck control,” defenseman Matt Cohen ’07 said. “We haven’t played a team like that and, from a defensive standpoint, we didn’t know how to play against that. Every time we made a mistake they capitalized on it and buried it.”
At the end of the second period, the Elis got another goal when Nate Jackson ’06 put one into the net. But the hole that the Bulldogs put themselves in was too great to get out of and the score at the end of the second was 7-2.
They did not completely give up, though, and shut the Wildcats out of the third period until only 14 seconds were remaining in the game and Brian Pouliot had a shot for a goal on the power play. Up until that point, though, the Wildcat power play had been de-clawed.
“Part of the game plan was terrific respect for the UNH power play and we were determined to stay out of the box, which we did a pretty good job doing,” Taylor said. “We were pretty good at killing the penalties. I think our penalty kill in the last three games has been much better.”
Mills looked at the fact that the Wildcats were 1-for-3 on the power play differently and said the lack of intense physical play by the Bulldogs was a factor in the lack of penalties.
“They have a lot of skilled forwards and they play sort of open on that side of ice,” Mills said. “We pretty much didn’t take it to them physically. When we did get down shorthanded I thought we did a good job on limiting their shots from grade A scoring areas, and Modelski made the saves he needed to and [Peter] Cohen [’05] too when he replaced him.”
Cohen came in with 6:42 left in the second period after the Wildcats got their sixth goal and finished with 12 saves. Modelski had 15 saves.
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