It had been more than a year since a Yale goalie had shut out an opposing team when Ryan Rondeau ’11 stonewalled Union on Sunday.
But two shutouts in a row? It had been more than 12 seasons since a Yale netminder had accomplished that.
Rondeau tacked another victory on to his personal 10-game winning streak when he turned away every puck that the University of Vermont sent his way Wednesday night in a 3–0 Yale win. Stopping the Catamounts (1-8-4) wasn’t easy — they were the first team all season to register more shots on net than the No. 1 Bulldogs (11–1, 6–0 ECAC). But Rondeau continued his remarkable transformation from fourth-string goalie last season to national star this year by getting one pad or another on every slap shot, one-timer and rebound he faced.
“I thought he looked poised out there,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said of Rondeau, who has not allowed a goal in 135 minutes and 23 seconds. “They certainly had some quality scoring chances and he stood his ground very well.”
Rondeau was not the only player stopping pucks for the Bulldogs. The Elis have made defense a focus since Boston College booted them from the NCAA tournament last year with nine goals, and they have demonstrated their progress in the past two shutouts.
“We get a lot of publicity for our offense,” right winger Brian O’Neill ’12 said. “But it’s been more defense lately. [Rondeau]’s getting some great stops and they guys are hustling back and focusing on the little things.”
While the Elis fought off the Catamounts in their own end, they did not play the prettiest hockey game of their season in what was their first contest as the nation’s No. 1 team. But the Blue’s efforts were still enough to defeat a team that beat them 1–0 last year and ousted them from the NCAA tournament the year before. Although the Catamounts have only one win this season, that victory came from a 5–3 win over No. 4 Boston College last month.
The win allowed Yale to close out their first half of the season on a high note before their three-week holiday for exams and holidays. But not all went well for the Elis. Just 16 seconds after the opening faceoff, left wing Jeff Anderson ’11 was writhing on the ice in the Vermont end after the senior had been hit hard against the end boards.
Anderson’s linemates had to help him off the ice as he glided on one leg with his head down, obviously in great pain. He continued to stay off his right leg on the way through the tunnel to the locker room. Allain said immediately after the game that there had been no update on Anderson’s condition.
The Elis struggled to get a rhythm going in the first period against Vermont, moving the puck but rarely controlling it for long possessions. Anderson’s injury seemed to have shaken his teammates’ composure.
“It certainly interfered with the flow of what we were trying to do with our lines, and no one likes to see a teammate go down,” Allain said.
Vermont registered the first three shots of the game, and the Bulldogs didn’t threaten the Vermont net in earnest until Catamount Anthony DeCenzo was sent off for holding the stick at 5:15. The Blue applied heavy pressure on the power play, but Vermont goaltender Rob Madore weathered the storm.
Right winger Broc Little ’11 — who leads the team in points but has not scored in two games — kept the attack going with a near-breakaway minutes later that a Vermont defender foiled at the last second. It was one of few odd-man rushes the Elis managed. Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said his team focused on backchecking and stopping Yale’s vaunted counterattack. Those efforts paid off in the first period, and the teams headed into intermission tied at zero.
The physical Vermont squad didn’t let up in the second frame. Passes missed their marks and pucks flew wildly across the ice for the first half of the period.
Center Andrew Miller ’13 finally made one count at 10:24 with Rondeau pulled on a delayed penalty call. Captain Jimmy Martin ’11 fed Miller the puck from the right boards, and the forward’s shot from beyond the slot slid through traffic to put Yale on the board.
Yale skated into the third period with a narrow 1–0 lead, but seemed to get more bad news when O’Neill was slammed into the boards. The winger skated slowly back to the bench, but was back on the ice minutes later when Vermont’s Kevin Milllar received a five-minute major for boarding.
Yale took advantage of their long power play when Chris Cahill ’11 — the latest ECAC skater of the week — poked home the rebound of his own shot to widen the gap to two goals.
Rondeau ensured that Vermont never had a chance to come back. The Catamounts fired 16 shots at him in the third period, including some particularly dangerous chances on a late four-on-four and with their goalie pulled.
Yale’s skaters helped Rondeau while the Catamounts skated with a sixth man. With just 15 seconds left, Cahill fought off a Vermont defender at center ice to give himself just enough room for a long shot on the empty net. His attempt went in, and the Elis extended the longest current winning streak in the country to six games.