While most of Yale was in the midst of its Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday, the men’s hockey team was boarding a flight to Denver.
The Bulldogs (5–2–1, 2–2 ECAC) traveled to Colorado to take on the No. 2 University of Denver Pioneers (9–2, 7–1 WCHA) and the No. 14 Colorado College Tigers (7–6–1). In both contests, three high-paced periods of action could not separate the teams, and the games proceeded to overtime. On Friday the Bulldogs fought for a 2–1 win over the Pioneers and followed up that performance with a 6–5 win over the Tigers the following night.
“This weekend was a great test for us,” goaltender Jeff Malcolm ’13 said. “Both Denver and CC are great hockey teams with a lot of talent. Our team game and [competition] level was outstanding both games.”
Despite the same frenetic pace of play and outcomes in overtime, the two games’ scoring patterns could not have been more different.
In the game against Denver, each team scored just one goal until overtime. The contest remained scoreless until the third period when forward Stu Wilson ’16 poked a short-handed goal past Pioneer goaltender Juho Olkinuora to put the Bulldogs up 1–0. But Denver pulled its goalie with less than two minutes remaining, and Tigers forward Nick Shore deflected a shot from the point over Malcolm’s shoulder to knot the score at one with just under a minute and a half remaining in regulation to knot the score at one.
Yale earned a power play at the end of overtime, and winger Antoine Laganiere’s ’13 shot from the point rebounded out to forward Kenny Agostino ’14, who threaded the puck past Olkinuora to give the Elis the 2–1 victory.
Denver, the second-most prolific scoring team in NCAA Division I hockey, only managed to slip a single goal past Malcolm on a total of 33 shots and five power plays.
“Our special teams were the difference,” Malcolm said. “Against Denver our penalty kill did an amazing job holding them scoreless and even managed to get a short-handed goal. Then, obviously, Kenny’s power play goal in overtime won it for us.”
Against Colorado College on Saturday, Laganiere popped a backhand shot over the Tigers’ goaltender just 57 seconds into the game and the Bulldogs went on to amass four more goals throughout the three periods of regulation.
But the Tigers matched the Elis goal-for-goal, including a three-goal outburst in the second period that put Yale in a 5–4 hole heading into the final period. Captain Andrew Miller ’13 evened the score with a power-play goal with just under eight minutes remaining and the game proceeded to overtime. With both teams down a man three minutes into overtime, forward Josh Balch ’13 gave the Bulldogs their second overtime win in as many nights with his first goal of the season.
Not only did the Bulldogs battle through two overtime periods two nights in a row, but they did so a mile above sea level. After arriving in Denver Thursday night the Bulldogs had less than 24 hours to acclimate to the elevation and atmosphere.
“To come from behind and win it at this altitude is a testament to the preparation our guys have done with their strength and conditioning,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said in an interview with Yale Athletics.
The Elis are now 4–0 against nationally ranked teams, having defeated Harvard, Saint Lawrence, Denver and Colorado College.
The Bulldogs will next take the ice at Ingalls Rink against Brown at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1.