The men’s hockey team learned the exact price of penalties this weekend.
In back-to-back ECAC Hockey League contests, the Bulldogs overcame Colgate, 2-1, before falling to No. 13 Cornell, 5-2. Although the Eli special teams were able to keep Yale alive on Friday, they were unable to repair the damage in Saturday night’s penalty-ridden game against Cornell.
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Friday night, the pre-season favored Raiders pulled ahead first when freshman forward Jason Williams ripped a shot between the legs of netminder Alec Richards ’09 with a one-man advantage in the second period.
The Elis evened up the score on a beautiful power play opportunity just 3:19 into the third. Allain gave the call to pull goalie Richards from ice, setting up the Bulldogs for a six-on-four advantage. Off a perfect feed from teammate Patrick Brosnihan ’09, forward Sean Backman ’10 found the puck in front of the pipes and buried it in the top corner of the net to tie the game.
Minutes later, the Bulldogs struck again, this time when defenseman Tom Dignard ’10 cleared the puck to forward Mike Karwoski ’09 on the other end of the ice. Karwoski held the puck momentarily at the top circle while waiting for forward Matt Nelson ’09, who fired a shot past the glove of Raiders’ goalkeeper Mark Dekanich to put Yale ahead, 2-1.
“We made some mistakes, but we battled through and made some big plays in the third period,” captain Matt Cohen ’07 said. “It wasn’t pretty but we got the win.”
Strong defense played a crucial role in the Yale victory. The Bulldog blueliners contained the Raiders on 10 of 11 power plays, killing all three of the Raiders’ five-on-three situations. Richards turned in another near-perfect performance between the pipes, stopping 23 of 24 shots on goal.
“It was a team effort Friday,” defenseman Bill LeClerc ’07 said. “The defense played very well. Our penalty killing has been a big factor in all of our wins so far.”
Despite the momentum of a three-game winning streak, the Bulldogs dropped their first game of the season because of sloppy play on Saturday night. Accounting for 16 of the game’s 25 penalties and 54 of the 83 penalty minutes, the Bulldogs could not match the undefeated Big Red’s superior special teams play.
“You can’t win a hockey game when you spend half the game or more in the box,” Cohen said. “You just can’t survive in this league doing that. We need to start being a lot smarter. We took some stupid penalties.”
In the opening frame, the referees dished out more penalty minutes (31) than there were in the period (20). The Elis spent a total of 25 minutes in the box, providing Cornell with ample opportunities to take a 2-0 lead. Both Big Red goals came on power plays, the first three minutes into the game and the second with just seven seconds remaining in the period.
The Bulldogs struck first in the second period, taking advantage of a four-on-three situation. Defenseman Rob Page ’08 sent the puck to LeClerc, who ripped a low shot past Big Red goalie Troy Davenport to close the gap to one. Cornell responded with two goals in rapid succession in the middle of the period, including a shorthanded goal at 9:15. Nelson tallied his second goal of the season off a feed from forward Greg Beller ’10, but the Big Red matched his score with 4:24 remaining to stay three goals ahead.
Although Cornell took twice as many shots as the home team in the third period, neither squad found the back of the net. Richards had a season-high 32 stops, but it was no surprise that the Big Red took home the victory, since they outshot the Elis 37-19.
“[The fact that] they took more shots stemmed from the amount of power plays they had,” said Beller. “We spent most of our time in our zone.”
Team members characterized the Big Red players as big, strong and fast — a team that the Elis will have to work hard to overcome when they meet again in January.