The men’s hockey team started its final stretch of ECAC games with a pair of wins and four points at St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend.
On Friday night, No. 14 Yale (9–4–3, 5–3–1 ECAC) beat St. Lawrence (9–10–2, 2–5–2 ECAC) for the second time this season, outscoring the Saints 5–3. Then on Saturday, the Bulldogs secured a 3–1 victory over the No. 19 Knights (4–12–5, 3–5–1 ECAC), who had beat Yale 1–0 when the two teams last faced off in November.
“We played really well as a team and had great goaltending [this weekend],” team captain Andrew Miller ’13 said. “Winning on the road is tough, and sweeping on the road is always big.”
This weekend’s triumphs were particularly big. Forward Antoine Laganiere ’13 noted that in recent years the Bulldogs have not had much success on the St. Lawrence/Clarkson road trip, so this weekend’s victories showed the team’s mental toughness and perseverance. The last time the Bulldogs won both games of this annual series was in the 2003–’04 season.
“That trip is a tough trip — especially with the amount of time it takes to get up there,” assistant coach Dan Muse said. “With those long road trips we have to do the little things well, and I think we did that in both games.”
The Bulldogs returned to conference play after a win, a loss and a tie in their three games during winter break — the Elis’ last nonconference games of the regular season.
“This weekend gave us some great momentum leading into the second half of the year,” defenseman Colin Dueck ’13 said. “We have nothing but league games left in the season, so every weekend and game is important. The league standings are still pretty tight — we have to keep putting some wins together and staying consistent.”
With this weekend’s sweep, the team is off to a strong start in the second half of the season. Friday night’s game saw five different Bulldogs score and goalie Jeff Malcolm ’13 make 36 saves. With the teams level at two goals each and nearly the same number of shots after the second period, the Bulldogs secured their two-point win in the final frame.
Forward Kenny Agostino ’14 opened the scoring with a goal at 12:53 in the first period with a wrist shot to the upper corner of the opposing net. St. Lawrence responded with its own goal just 25 seconds later, and scored again at 7:05 in the second. Top-scoring freshman Stu Wilson ’16 tied the game for Yale at 2–2 on a power play midway through the second period.
Yale successfully killed all four of its penalties on Friday night and converted two of its four power plays. The second of these goals came at 9:43 in the third period, when Antoine Laganiere ’13 tipped in a shot off an assist from forward Trent Ruffalo ’15. Nicholas Weberg ’15 extended the Bulldogs’ advantage with a goal at 13:09 off Miller’s 100th career assist.
St. Lawrence pulled within one only 26 seconds later but could not make up the difference after Miller scored an open-net goal in the final minute of play.
Dueck said Yale’s speed and “killer instinct” helped the team secure its wins this weekend “against a faster team like St Lawrence and a big, strong team like Clarkson.” But Laganiere noted that the team could work on its defensive play.
“I thought on Friday night, we could all have done a better job defensively, but the positives in our offensive game ultimately gave us a chance to win,” he said.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs got their payback for the Nov. 9 loss against Clarkson. Despite high energy and many shots from both teams, the first period ended scoreless. But Jesse Root ’14 broke the stalemate with a power-play goal at 6:24. Agostino then increased the Bulldogs’ lead to two with a goal shortly after.
Down 2–0 going into the third period, Clarkson battled back, outshooting the Bulldogs 11–9 in the final period. The Knights scored at 17:23, but an empty-net power-play goal by Clinton Bourbonnais ’14 sealed the victory.
“Clarkson pushed hard right to the end, but Malcolm made some big saves and we weathered the storm,” Dueck said.
Laganiere added that while the team wants to win every time it plays, Saturday’s victory was special after the team’s earlier loss to Clarkson.
“From the drop of the puck, although they played tough, we were determined to not let that happen again, and we didn’t,” Laganiere said.
Next weekend, the Bulldogs will take on Harvard and Dartmouth at Ingalls Rink on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday’s game will air live on NBC Sports Network.