The men’s hockey team was supposed to make this one look easy. And it did.
No. 3 Yale (8-1, 4-0 ECAC) came back to Ingalls Rink after four consecutive road games and used a stellar power play to top struggling Sacred Heart (1-8-3) by a 5–1 margin Tuesday night.
While the Pioneers tested Bulldog netminder Ryan Rondeau ’11 only four times in the first period, the Elis were hardly that kind to Sacred Heart goaltender Steven Legatto. Although Legatto made 18 saves in the first frame, the Bulldogs were still able to get the puck past him three times.
“[Legatto] played well,” said winger Chad Ziegler ’12, who helped mar the opposing goalie’s night with two goals of his own. “He made some pretty big saves for the other team. We were doing well getting a lot of shots on net. The score really didn’t tell the tale of how he played in net.”
Yale turned the shot imbalance into one on the scoreboard when Ziegler got going. The junior left wing scored two goals in rapid succession in the first period, and Sacred Heart never recovered.
Ziegler’s big night was somewhat of a surprise — he had three goals in eight games going into the contest and scored three times all of last year. Typically, it is Yale’s dangerous first line of Denny Kearney ’11, Broc Little ’11, and Kevin Limbert ’12 who notch multi-goal games. The line had 18 of Yale’s 47 goals going into the Tuesday night, and tallied seven of the Elis’ 15 points in the Sacred Heart game.
Though that trio might be the most frightening for opponents, the Elis’ deep lines have proved in the past three games that their opponents can never take a shift off. In the Bulldogs’ weekend road trip, Kenny Agostino ’14 and Jesse Root ’14 — who played on the fourth line with Ziegler until recently — each potted a pair of goals.
Ziegler added one of his own over the weekend from the third line. And Tuesday night, playing alongside veterans Brendan Mason ’11 and Charles Brockett ’12, he kept the fireworks coming.
Ziegler’s first goal of the night came with Yale playing up a man due to a delayed penalty against Sacred Heart. Defenseman Gus Young ’14 — back for the first time since he suffered an upper body injury early in the season — picked up a shot from fellow blueliner Ken Trentowsi ’11 that had bounced off a Sacred Heart defender. Ziegler one-timed a perfect behind-the-back pass from Young past Legatto at 10:27.
Not content with the slim lead he had given the Bulldogs, Ziegler beat Legatto again 1:12 later with Yale’s first of three power play goals. But this time it was Little who did most of the work. He took a pass from Kearney and beat a pair of defenders before slipping a behind-the-back pass of his own to Ziegler, who re-directed it for the score.
“I just seem[ed] to be in the right spots,” Ziegler said. “I guess it’s just been clicking lately.”
The first period onslaught was not over. Little kept up his furious scoring pace — he is second in the nation in points per game and goals per game — with a power play marker just four seconds before the end of the period.
Ziegler and Little’s power play goals were a theme of the night for the Elis. This was a rare game in which Yale — which leads the nation in penalty minutes — had fewer infractions than their opponents, and they took advantage by converting three of seven man advantages.
Sacred Heart took advantage of its power plays too. The Pioneers narrowed the Bulldog lead to two goals with a special teams marker early in the second period after Colin Dueck ’13 was sent off for interference.
But that would be the only one of four advantages the Pioneers would convert.
Rondeau turned aside 22 of the 23 shots he saw, and the Elis received goals from Kearney and Jimmy Martin ’11 in the second period to seal a convincing win heading into their ten-day Thanksgiving break. They next play on December 3 against No. 17 Rensselaer.