Sometimes, having an advantage in shots on goal does not translate into victory.
In suffering back-to-back 4–2 losses against Colgate (17–10–3, 11–6–1) and No. 13 Cornell (13–6–6, 10–3–5) on the road, the men’s hockey team (10–13–2, 7–10–1 ECAC) learned this lesson the hard way this weekend. The Bulldogs outshot the Raiders 35–28 and the Big Red 34–25 but could not outscore their opponents. With four games left before the ECAC playoffs, the losses dropped the Elis into a tie with Dartmouth for eighth place in the conference.
“We came out with two losses, but those were very winnable games,” forward Kenny Agostino ’14 said. “We feel encouraged going into the playoffs.” ,” Agostino said. “Against Colgate, I really thought we were the better team.”
Despite skating neck-and-neck with the Raiders for 60 minutes, the Bulldogs failed to convert several golden opportunities and went just 1–5 on the power play.
Just three and a half minutes into the first period, Colgate struck for an early power-play goal. Six seconds after forward Charles Brockett ’12 went to the box for hooking, Colgate’s Corbin McPherson sent a weak shot through traffic that beat Jeff Malcolm ’13 and gave the Raiders an early lead.
“We worked very hard tonight and created a lot of chances,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “We were close, but still not running on all cylinders.”
The Elis kept it competitive in the second period and managed to knot things up with about 10 minutes remaining. Yale was given a power play when Colgate’s Chris Wagner was penalized for tripping. On the ensuing man-advantage, forward Antoine Laganiere ’13 one-timed a pass from Jesse Root ’14 into the back of the Colgate net.
But Yale’s fifth and final penalty of the night gave the Raiders an opening that they jumped at with about five minutes remaining in the period. A long Colgate shot bounced off the boards and, after a scramble in front of the net, popped out to a waiting Colgate forward who banged it home for the 2–1 lead.
“I think if we had gotten more traffic [in front of the net] and more screen plays, we might have been able to capitalize on our scoring opportunities.” Root said.
Yale tied things up again with another rebound off the boards behind the net. Defenseman Tommy Fallen ’15 took a long shot that fell to Brian O’Neill ’12 on the left side of the net. He tapped it in for his 16th goal of the season.
But the Raiders struck back. Off of a faceoff, a failed Yale clearance ended up on the stick of Thomas Larkin, who moved the puck to Lidgett for his second goal of the night.
After Allain pulled Malcolm from the net, the man-advantage created two opportunities for the Elis to score. But the Bulldogs could not find the net, and Smith, a favorite for the Hobey Baker Award, put one away to seal the 4–2 victory for Colgate., this time in front of a sold out Lynah Rink, allowing the Big Red to clinch the Ivy League title.
Despite finishing with the same score, Saturday’s matchup with Cornell looked much different than the game against Colgate on Friday. During that game, the Elis were able to keep pace with the Raiders in the goal column throughout all three periods. But on Saturday, Yale fell behind early and faced a four-goal deficit until only five minutes remained in the game.
Still, Allain said he was still impressed with the team’s efforts.
“I’m real proud of the way we hung in there tonight,” he said. “We battled back against some adversity on road. The bottom line is we had to work way too hard for goals, while theirs came much too easily.”
For the third game in a row, the Elis gave up a goal in the first five minutes to fall into an early hole. Forward Sean Collins scored his first goal of the period from the left circle on a slap shot. He followed up with another goal from the same spot with just three minutes remaining in the period.
About five minutes into the second period, Locke Jillson took a shorthanded attempt from the top of the right circle that found its way into the Yale net. Following the goal, Allain pulled Malcolm for Connor Wilson ‘15, who made his collegiate debut.
Wilson was thrown into the fire right away. Just two minutes after being put on the ice, Cornell’s John McCarron grabbed a rebound off a Wilson save and put it in with about 12 minutes remaining in the period.
“Cornell is a tough place for a goalie who hasn’t had a whole lot of experience to play,” Root said. “[Wilson] did a great job of stepping in last night and I think that definitely energized us. We were kind of slow to start off the game and that send us the message that we need to get going.”
In the final period, the Bulldogs outshot the Big Red 15–2, but it took them almost 16 minutes to get the puck across the goal line.
Nick Jaskowiak ’12 finally broke through with a slap sho, his second goal of the year.
The Bulldogs struck again with 51 seconds remaining to pull within two. After a pass from Fallen, O’Neill scored his second goal in two nights and 17th of the year by putting one over Cornell’s Andy Iles’ shoulder.
“I think in our next couple of games, we need to be much more consistent in all three phases of our games,” Root said. “We need to play more confidently and take the pressure off.”
The Elis will be back in Ingalls Rink for the regular season finale next weekend to take on Dartmouth and Harvard. The games begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.