After watching their fantastic January turn into a winless February, the men’s hockey team had low expectations heading into March. But entering their first-round playoff series against Union, the Elis embraced their underdog status and shined.
The No. 11 seed Bulldogs stole two games on the road against heavily favored No. 6 Union to advance into the second round of the ECAC playoffs for the first time since 1998. Ironically, after going winless in five regular season overtime games, the Elis won both games in extra frames. On March 3, 9 minutes into the extra frame, defenseman Matt Cohen ’07 beat Dutchmen goalie Kris Mayotte to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 victory.
Yet the finish in Game One paled in comparison to the overtime heroics Yale pulled off the following night. After scoring two goals each in regulation, Union and Yale skated to four scoreless overtimes, due in large part to Alec Richards ’09’s career-high 57 saves. But a minute into the fifth overtime, forward David Meckler ’09 finished the Dutchmen for good. Meckler’s short-handed goal ended the longest game in NCAA history at 1:10 a.m., six hours and 10 minutes after the 7 p.m. start.
After playing 210 minutes of emotionally and physically draining hockey in two days, it was no surprise that the Elis struggled to keep up with the ECAC’s No. 1 seed Dartmouth a week later.
Despite dropping the first game, 5-1, the Bulldogs again showed amazing resiliency hanging with the Big Green throughout the second game. While Yale would ultimately lose the contest, 3-1, their magical run during the playoffs hints at a promising future. After all was said and done, the Elis improved 10 games on their 2004-05 record and won their first playoff series in eight years.