SCHENECTADY, NY — For 20 minutes Friday night, Yale looked like the No. 1 team in the country. The problem was the other 40.
No. 12/13 Union (17–7–3, 9–3–1 ECAC) outhit, outmuscled, and outskated the Elis (17–3–0, 11–2) for the first two periods, then withstood a furious comeback attempt from the Bulldogs en route to a 3–2 win. The victory, in front of a raucous, sold out home crowd in Schenectady, New York, follows Yale’s 5-0 win over the Dutchmen at Ingalls Rink in December.
“It feels great to have revenge,” said Union goalie Keith Kinkaid, who outdueled Eli counterpart Ryan Rondeau ’11. “They embarrassed us at Ingalls, and we got them back.”
The Dutchmen’s hunger for revenge showed from the opening seconds of the game. They won the opening faceoff and dictated play from then on. 6’2” 210-pound Union defenseman Nolan Julseth-White set the tone early as he skated into the Yale zone and leveled 5’9” 180-pound Eli captain Jimmy Martin ’11 before firing a shot on net.
The Dutchmen’s tenacious defense pushed Yale’s attackers around for the first two periods, clogging up passing lanes and preventing the Bulldogs’ trademark counterattack. As the Elis whiffed on passes and struggled to create turnovers, Union made the crowd gasp with a series of near misses. By the second intermission, the home team held a 30–17 lead in shots on goal.
The Dutchmen were particularly successful shutting down the Eli transition game, which all season has turned opponents’ mistakes into scoring chances for Hobey Baker award nominee Broc Little ’11 — who went without a point for his third consecutive game — and his fellow forwards.
“They know that if they turn pucks over, we’re gonna make them pay,” said winger Brian O’Neill ’12, who assisted Yale’s first goal. “They did a good job not turning the puck over.”
As Union’s defense proved that it earns its rank as second-best in the country, its power play unit — which scores at the nation’s greatest clip — also put on a show. Just 14 seconds into the team’s first power play and 11 minutes into the game, Freshman winger Daniel Carr picked up a rebound and roofed it past Rondeau to open the scoring.
Yale never recovered. Although the Elis headed into the locker room after 20 minutes down by just a single goal, the game could have been far more lopsided had a pair of Union shots not trickled wide of the net.
Seven minutes into the second period, the Dutchmen widened their lead with another power play goal after Jesse Root ’14 — who was playing in his first game since sustaining a concussion at Harvard earlier this month — was sent off for interference. Just three seconds into the penalty, the puck came out of a faceoff and onto the stick of Wayne Simpson, who rifled a wrist shot over Rondeau’s blocker.
Although Union dominated the second period almost as thoroughly as it did the first, Kenny Agostino ’14 gave the Elis some hope when his one-timer off an O’Neill power play feed cut the deficit back to a goal 13:39 into the stanza.
But the Dutchmen and their home crowd wouldn’t let Yale regain momentum. Adam Presizniuk made the score 3–1 with the game’s only even strength goal just 40 seconds later. Attacking from the point, Kelly Zajac found Presizniuk just inside the blue line, with the Union forward catching Rondeau out of position with a wrist shot that sailed above the goalie’s glove and into the back of the net.
“Any time Yale gets a goal, you know that the momentum will change a bit,” Presizniuk said. “So you have to keep things simple … get pucks in deep. And that’s what we did.”
The Elis returned to the locker room after the second period needing a spirited comeback to avoid their third loss of the season. They came a bounce away.
“After the second period, we knew we were still in the game and we knew we hadn’t been close to our best in the first 40 minutes,” Martin said. “We believed. We just couldn’t quite do it.”
Yale controlled the entirety of the final 20 minutes. It outshot the home team, 13–4, and kept play in Union’s end for most of the frame. Although Martin made the score 3–2 when he crashed the net 12 seconds into a power play and converted a feed from Denny Kearney ’11, Yale could not beat Kinkaid again. As the Union defense collapsed around him, the sophomore goaltender withstood everything the Bulldogs could muster.
The Elis pulled Rondeau in the last minute, to no avail. With the home crowd on its feet, the final buzzer sounded and the Dutchmen mobbed Kinkaid as if they had just won a playoff game. The Elis skated off listlessly.
“It’s not anything they did at all, O’Neill said. “We just didn’t work hard enough.”
Christopher Merriman contributed reporting.