In the last regular season homestand of their career, the seniors of the men’s hockey team went out in high fashion.
The Bulldogs (12–13–2, 9–10–1 ECAC) showcased the dynamic offense for which they are known. The team clinched a 5–3 win over Dartmouth (10–13–4, 7–10–3) on Friday night before throttling archrival Harvard (8–7–11, 6–4–9) 7–1 the next day. With the ECAC playoffs fast approaching, the wins launched the Elis into a tie with St. Lawrence for seventh place in the conference.
Head coach Keith Allain ’80 said the two games combined showed the team at its full potential.
“I think it’s been our best weekend of the year, certainly at home,” he said. “To get the sweep was big, and we go on the road feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
Dartmouth tied the game at 1–1 six minutes into the second period. But Brian O’Neill ’12 struck back and gave the Elis a 2–1 advantage less than a minute later. After receiving a pass from Colin Dueck ’13, O’Neill put the puck past Mello and raised his hand in triumph before the rink’s audience completely realized what had happened.
“[Dueck] got the puck out to me, and I had all day,” O’Neill said. “If you make a decent shot, it’s going to go in.”
But with just four minutes remaining in the second frame, Dartmouth caught Yale off-guard with a counterattack and tied the game up at two.
With the game hanging in the balance going into the third period, the Yale power play caught fire at the perfect time. Within the first five minutes of the final period, the Elis notched two power-play goals to take a 4–2 lead. The first goal came just two minutes into the frame on a perfectly executed power play. O’Neill picked out Jesse Root ’14 standing in the right circle and served up the puck. Root took a slap shot that found the roof of the net and claimed a 3–2 lead the Bulldogs would not relinquish.
The team scored a second-straight power-play goal just two minutes later off Ziegler, which gave Yale some breathing room. The team’s performance with a man-advantage marked improvement over last weekend, when the Elis scored only once off of 13 power plays.
Although Dartmouth pulled within one with 10 minutes remaining, the Elis finished off the Big Green with nine seconds left when Peel scored an empty-netter, and the Big Green went home defeated.
coring three goals in the opening period, the Bulldogs dominated the tempo of Saturday’s game against Harvard from the beginning. The smackdown continued throughout as Yale racked up seven points to outmatch the Cantabs’ one. O’Neill notched three assists, and Agostino finished with two goals and two assists.
Nearly nine minutes into the game, O’Neill gave the sold-out crowd at Ingalls Rink a lesson on puck handling. As Yale’s first power play wound down, the forward sprinted into the slot while fending off three defenders. O’Neill then quickly passed the puck to Antoine Laganiere ’13 for the opening goal.
The Elis kept their red-hot offense rolling less than a minute later. Agostino skated down the right side of the rink and sent the puck across the ice to Andrew Miller ’13, who squeezed the puck into the net to widen the Elis’ lead to 2–0. Agostino said the Bulldogs’ ability to move the puck from defense to offense was responsible for much of their success over the weekend.
“Transition hockey is so big in college hockey, and we capitalized on transitions numerous times,” Agostino said. “That’s how we got a lot of our goals this weekend.”
With less than two minutes left in the opening period, Harvard struggled to set up its offense in front the Yale net, which allowed Agostino to slip behind the Crimson defense unnoticed. Laganiere sent the puck to a wide-open Agostino for the easy breakaway goal.
In a desperate attempt to maximize its scoring chances, the Crimson pulled its goaltender off the ice in exchange for an extra skater with less than a minute to go in the opening frame. The gamble led to two concurrent penalties for Yale and set up a five-on-three power play goal for Harvard just 23 seconds into the second period.
But the Bulldogs answered a minute and a half later as forward Kevin Limbert ’12 scored on a breakaway to give the Elis a 4–1 lead. Allain said Limbert’s goal was a pivotal moment in the game.
“For us to answer the way we did was huge,” Allain said. “When they scored it was a potential for the momentum and the game to slip into their favor, but I think with Limbert’s goal, we put our hands right around it again.”
Tempers flared as the Crimson players increasingly favored an aggressive playing style. In a span of three minutes, the referees whistled seven penalties, five of which they assigned to the Cantabs. The Crimson finished the game with 13 penalties, while the Bulldogs had eight.
Agostino took advantage of the chaos and scored an unassisted power play goal 8:48 into the second period, which put the Elis ahead by 5–1.
Limbert said better awareness around the net led to the Bulldogs’ high-flying attack.
“People are putting the extra effort in and making a solid tape-to-tape pass, and the receiver on the other hand is ready to shoot the puck,” he said. “I think everyone is making crisp passes and is ready to release the puck as soon as it’s on their stick.”
With 1:29 left in the game, Limbert tallied his second goal of the night off a rebound from Matt Killian ’15. One minute later, Agostino fed fellow forward Day for the freshman’s first collegiate goal.
The Elis will be back in action next weekend when they travel to Princeton and Quinnipiac for their final regular-season contests of 2012.