The men’s hockey team split contests this weekend as it earned its first conference win at home Sunday afternoon.
In their ECAC home opener, the Bulldogs (2-2-2, 1-1-2 ECAC) dropped a close 2-1 game to Cornell (3-2-0, 3-1-0) on Friday night before overcoming Colgate (3-6-1, 0-3-1), 6-4, at Ingalls Rink on Sunday afternoon. After opening their conference schedule with two ties last weekend, the Elis hope yesterday’s win is a sign of good things to come as the team plunges deeper into the 2007-’08 season.
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In a close contest Friday night, the Big Red won off of a few lucky bounces that went their way. The game remained scoreless until midway through the first period, when Cornell took a 1-0 lead off a failed Yale clear. Cornell’s Riley Nash intercepted the puck and slid it past goalie Billy Blase ’10 — the only goal that Blase would give up the entire night.
The Big Red held on to the 1-0 edge until the final minute of the game, when Blase left the ice with 51 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a man advantage. But the strategy backfired, as the Big Red got possession of the puck 10 seconds later and buried it in the back of the empty net to pull ahead 2-0.
Forward Sean Backman ’10 scored his first goal of the year with five seconds on the clock, which still left the Bulldogs one goal short of the Big Red when the final whistle blew.
“The game [Friday] night was a hard fought battle, and we unfortunately ended up on the losing end,” captain Will Engasser ’08 said. “As a whole, our team played really well in all aspects of the game. We were solid in the defensive zone and played well against a Cornell defense that does not allow many pucks to reach their net.”
The Bulldogs rebounded Sunday afternoon as they skated past Colgate, 6-4, in a tough contest. The Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period with goals by forwards Brian Day and Ben Camper.
But the Elis fought back from the early deficit, and Backman tallied a goal with just under five minutes remaining off a feed from teammate Mark Arcobello ’10 to make the game 2-1 going into the first break.
The beginning of the second frame was a blur, as the Bulldogs scored just seven seconds into the period to knot the score at two.
With both teams playing shorthanded because of a penalty in the final seconds of the first, blueliner Ryan Donald ’10 got the puck from Arcobello and buried it in the back of the net. A minute later, Arcobello scored his first goal of the night to put Yale ahead, 3-2, for the first time all game.
The two squads battled back and forth for the next few minutes before Colgate found the equalizer at 7:25. But the Elis surged ahead once again late in the period when Arcobello lit the lamp with one minute remaining to bookend the period with Yale goals. Defender Rob Page found Arcobello in front of the goal, and he fired a hard backhanded wrister to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 edge heading into the final period of regulation.
Although it looked as if the lead would not change hands again for the first nine minutes of the third frame, Colgate tied the score for the third time at 9:53. But the game would not remain even for much longer.
The Raiders were called for a penalty with 7:09 left on the clock, and just four seconds into the power play, defenseman Tom Dignard ’10 tallied off an Arcobello feed to break the deadlock.
Dignard’s goal seemed to give energy to the Bulldog squad as the team battled hard for the next four minutes before getting an insurance goal from rookie Brendan Mason ’11 to seal the deal. Blase helped the Elis survive even as they were two players short in the final minute to finish the game with a 6-4 win.
“We got off to a sluggish start and spotted them two goals before we really started to skate,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “We used our speed, and were able to turn the game around. I wouldn’t say we out-skated them, but there were a combination of things we did well.”
One thing that the Bulldogs did well was to mount a comeback after falling behind early in the game — a problem that has plagued the squad in several games this season, including the matchup with Cornell.
“We always seem to wait until someone’s pushing us from behind,” Arcobello said. “We just came out too slow. After Coach Allain’s pep talk after the first period, we really turned it on.”
Arcobello shined this weekend, turning in a solid performance Friday night and making a major contribution in Sunday’s victory. He scored two goals and had three assists in the Colgate game. Fellow sophomore Blase — in his first season seeing significant time between the pipes — finished the weekend with 51 saves.
The Bulldogs hope to build on the momentum from Sunday’s win when they head to upstate New York to face formidable opponents St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend.