It’s playoff time.
The men’s hockey team rounded out its regular season with a 2–2 tie at Quinnipiac University on Saturday night to finish sixth in the ECAC. The sixth-place finish puts the Elis (13–13–3, 10–10–2 ECAC) in position to host Princeton for the opening round of the ECAC playoffs this weekend.
Quinnipiac (17–11–6, 9–8–5) and Yale went back and forth in a deadlocked early on in the first period. The Bulldogs came out hot and had the upper hand for the first ten minutes and led in shots on goal by an 8–3 margin. But Quinnipiac picked up the pace in the second half of the period. Heading into the first intermission, the Bobcats led 15–10 in shots on goal. Yale goaltender Nick Maricic ’13 made some big saves in the final ten minutes of the period to keep the score knotted at one. Maricic said facing tough shots early helped him later on in the game.
“It’s nice to get the shots early, that’s what you hope for,” he said in a press release. “When you can make a good save at the beginning of the game, it really helps you.”
While neither side managed to score in the first period, during the middle frame the teams combined for four goals. Yale kicked off the action just 30 seconds into the period when Jesse Root ’14 notched his first of two consecutive goals off an assist from Charles Brockett ’12.
“I was calling for it as I came out,” Root said in a press release. “It was a really nice play. He hit me in stride. I had a lot of room to make a move.”
However, Yale squandered the momentum by committing two straight penalties that gave Quinnipiac a chance to get back into the game. The Elis made it through the first penalty unscathed but did not get so lucky when Kenny Agostino ’14 went to the box just 40 seconds later. It took the Bobcats all of 33 seconds to slip one just past Maricic’s leg and tie the score.
With Quinnipiac building momentum, Yale caught a bad break at the wrong time. Just 35 seconds after Quinnipiac tied it at one, the referees ejected Antoine Laganiere ’13 for five minutes for making contact to the head. With a five-minute penalty kill coming up, things looked grim for Yale.
But Root struck again with a shorthanded goal to deflate the Quinnipiac crowd and give Yale a 2–1 lead. Forward Clint Bourbonais ’14 took advantage of a bad touch by a Quinnipiac defenseman and stole the puck at the Bobcats’ blue line. With the blueliner on his back, Bourbonais carried the puck to the net and shot an off-balanced backhand that Bobcats’ keeper Eric Hartzell stopped. With the puck free in front of the net, Root swooped in, grabbed the rubber and finished an easy goal to give Yale the lead again.
With seven minutes remaining in the second period, Quinnipiac put away another goal on a beautifully executed power play while Laganiere was still off the ice.
After the flurry of goals in the second period, the teams returned to a stalement in the third. Quinnipiac controlled the pace of the game for most of the period and outshot Yale 15–5. With less than five minutes remaining, the Bobcats looked as though they were going to score when they went on a power play. Quinnipiac had moved the puck effortlessly against Yale on the power play all night, but the Bobcats could not capitalize on their scoring chances.
In overtime, the Bulldogs recorded two shots on goal to Quinnipiac’s zero. Head coach Keith Allain ’80 said he was pleased with Yale’s overtime effort.
“I thought we were the stronger team in overtime, and that’s very important,” Allain said in a press release. “Our team has the skill and grit to beat anyone in the league. If our attention is there, and our focus is there, we will see [in the playoffs] if we are good enough.”