The young guys can skate.
Three Yale freshmen scored Wednesday night at Ingalls Rink in an exhibition game as the No. 1 Bulldogs (11–1) outgunned the Russian Red Stars, a traveling team of elite young players from Russia, Belarus, and Latvia, 5–3.
Associate Head Coach Kyle Wallack, who led Yale in the absence of head coach Keith Allain ’80, kept the team’s top four scorers out of the lineup. Broc Little ’11, Andrew Miller ’13, Denny Kearney ’11, and Brian O’Neill ’12, all of whom are top ten in the nation in points per game, watched as the team’s less established players stole the show.
Goaltender Ryan Rondeau ’11, another star who has neither lost a game this season nor allowed a goal in his past two games, also saw limited playing time. He stopped 12 of 13 shots in the first period before giving way to Nick Maricic ’13 and Jeff Malcolm ’13. It was the first action Maricic had seen all season, and Malcolm’s first since allowing four late goals in Air Force’s upset of Yale earlier this season.
In the absence of the veteran talent, Yale may have caught a glimpse of its future. Kenny Agostino ’14 scored twice, and classmates Jesse Root ’14 and Brad Peltz ’14 contributed tallies. Antoine Laganiere ’13 notched the other Eli goal. None of the underclassmen had registered more than two goals before the vacation, and Peltz had not seen any playing time.
The Bulldogs pressured the Red Stars early. Laganiere sent a perfect feed from Root over the shoulder of visiting goalie Rafael Khamikov just 1:11 into the game.
The goal marked a remarkable display of cohesion for a team that had managed just one practice this week. Players were expected back on campus on Dec. 26, but most encountered difficulty as snow blanketed the northeast.
Allain also missed the exhibition, though not due to weather. He is coaching the United States team at the World Junior Hockey Championships. The Americans have won their first two games of the preliminary round, most recently 6–1 over Slovakia on Tuesday. If Allain’s team keeps winning, he may miss Yale’s Jan. 2 return to official play against Holy Cross. The World Junior semifinals are scheduled for Jan. 3 in Buffalo, New York, and the finals for two days later. The United States won the tournament last year.
Neither weather nor Allain’s absence stopped the Bulldogs. They led 3–1 going into the third period. The Red Stars brought pressure on Jeff Malcolm, and scored twice on 18 shots. But Peltz scored the game winner on a power play. He was assisted by Danny Otto ’12, who had been unable to compete for the past two years due to an injury.
Agostino clinched the win with an empty net goal 23 seconds before the final whistle, and the Bulldogs skated away with some momentum going into their Holy Cross contest, the first of 17 regular season games Yale has left in its hunt for the national championship.