BRIDGEPORT — After a record-setting 24-win season including its first-ever ECAC tournament championship, the men’s hockey team finally met its match Friday against No. 11 Vermont at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
The third-seeded Catamounts (20-11-5, 15-8-4 Hockey East) upset the second-seeded Bulldogs by a score 4-1 to advance to the East Regional final against Air Force.
Chris Cahill ’10 scored late in the game for the Bulldogs, while goaltender Alec Richards ’09 made 22 saves in net.
After an evenly-matched start to the game, Vermont forward Peter Lunes opening the scoring 14:28 into the contest. Lunes carried the puck up from his defensive zone and beat Yale goaltender Alec Richards ’09 – who appeared to have been screened by his own defenseman – with a low far-post wrister for his 15th goal of the season.
Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist Viktor Stalberg doubled his team’s lead less than two minutes into the second period on an opportunistic wrist shot. The junior forward carried the puck up into the offensive zone and attempted a pass through right defenseman Jimmy Martin’s ’11 legs, but the puck took a slight deflection off Martin’s skate. Once again in position of the puck, Stalberg quickly snapped a wrister past Richards and into the right side of the net.
Vermont only picked up its play following the goal, keeping the Elis on their heels with hard crosschecks, crisp passing and a consistent flow of shots on net.
After a 8-7 advantage in shots during the opening frame, the Catamounts took control of the game early in the second and had mustered a 14-8 advantage midway through the second period.
Yale picked things up during the latter half of the period and came close to get right back into the game at around the 15-minute mark. Right winger Sean Backman ’10 and center Brian O’Neill ’12 connected in quick succession, with the latter finding left winger Denny Kearney ’11 open on the weak side for a one-timer. Vermont goaltender Rob Madore shifted over quickly to deny Kearney and preserve his shutout.
Junior forward Colin Vock dealt a crushing blow to Yale’s comeback effort with an even-strength goal with less than a minute remaining in the period and the Bulldogs were simply unable to get on track during the third period.
The teams traded goals late in the third period, but by that time the outcome of the contest had already been decided and thousands of fans had filed out of the Arena at Harbor Yard.