It was a rematch widely anticipated by the college hockey world: bitter rivals, Yale and Quinnipiac, facing off in an encore performance of last year’s National Championship game. Yale produced a stunning upset in that game, winning 4–0 on neutral ice in Pittsburgh.
But Saturday’s game was held under totally different circumstances, as the Bulldogs (3–1–2, 2–0–2 ECAC) travelled up the road to face a hostile crowd on Quinnipiac’s campus. Despite the 51–20 shot disparity in favor of the Bobcats (9–1–1, 3–0–1), Yale managed to escape High Point Solutions Arena on Saturday with a tie, capping off a three-point weekend that also featured a 5–2 victory over Princeton on Friday.
“It’s disappointing not getting a win [against Quinnipiac],” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “But when you look back on it, you have to be satisfied with [three points].”
In both games, the Bulldogs were buoyed by fantastic goaltending, especially in the matchup against the Bobcats on Saturday.
Goaltender Patrick Spano ’17 got the start against Princeton and capitalized on the opportunity, making 23 saves against the Tigers (1–5–0, 0–4–0). Meanwhile, goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 weathered a powerful Quinnipiac attack on Saturday, stopping 48 of the Bobcats’ 51 shots.
“Both goalies had great games this weekend,” forward John Hayden ’17 wrote in an email to the News. “Spano made some big saves against Princeton. Lyon was a stud against Quinnipiac and undoubtedly kept us in the game at times.”
The centerpiece of the weekend, the so-called “Battle of Whitney Avenue,” was played in front of a sellout crowd of 3,695 at High Point Solutions Arena on Saturday. Many of the spectators had lined up for hours to get a prime spot in the student section.
Neither the Bulldogs nor the Bobcats could do much on their first power plays, as both came up empty-handed on the man-advantage within the first 10 minutes of the opening period.
With less than a minute remaining in the first period, Quinnipiac struck first. Following a missed shot, freshman forward Sam Anas found himself in front of an open net and fired a shot past goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 to deliver a 1–0 lead for Quinnipiac.
In the second period, the Bobcats’ Jordan Samuels-Thomas made a move on the right of the goal and slapped it through Lyon’s legs from close range, making it 2–0 Quinnipiac. Though it looked as though the referees could have whistled Quinnipiac for goaltender interference, no penalty was called, putting the Yale offense in a big hole.
“Lyon did a good job for us,” Allain said of the freshman, who set his career high in saves. “He was poised under pressure.”
Yale wasted little time in responding to the two-goal deficit. Just 1:08 after the Quinnipiac goal, the Bobcats were called for a slashing penalty. Twenty-six seconds later, defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16 fired a rocket past goalie Michael Garteig to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.
Yale then stunned the crowd with goals less than 30 seconds apart. After forward Frankie DiChiara ’17 took the puck down the left sideline, forward Stu Wilson ’16 found himself with the puck behind the net. Wilson passed back to DiChiara, who was able to push in the puck from his position in front of the net to tie the game at two apiece.
Just 22 seconds later, a slap shot from defenseman Gus Young ’14 was put through on the rebound by forward Mike Doherty ’17, silencing the Quinnipiac faithful and giving the Elis a 3–2 lead.
The third period was entirely dominated by Quinnipiac, which outshot Yale 21–6, but it was not until the 15:08 mark that the Bobcats scored. After a double penalty led to a four-on-four situation, Lyon got caught looking the wrong way on action behind the net, and Matthew Peca buried a slap shot to tie it up.
In overtime, Yale was held shotless for the five-minute frame, while the Bobcats could only muster three of their own, and the game ended in a 3–3 draw.
“We played pretty good team defense,” Allain said. “We kept them from second shots, and we were shorthanded due to injury.”
Friday’s win against Princeton, by contrast, never seemed in doubt.
The Bulldogs got off to a fast start, scoring twice in the first period on goals by Doherty, his first career tally, and forward Carson Cooper ’16.
“The team played a great game, and the fast start was a big part of it,” Spano said. “I think it’s a good confidence boost for the team as a whole.”
Yale tacked on two more goals early in the second period, with Wilson and defenseman Tommy Fallen ’15 getting on the board within the first 10 minutes of the frame. After Princeton scored on a power play — the only goal for either team on the man advantage–Fallen found the back of the net with just six seconds remaining in the second frame to increase the lead to 5–1 and effectively put the game away.
Princeton scored once more in the third period on a shorthanded effort by Aaron Kesselman, but it proved to be too little, too late, and Yale left with the 5–2 victory.
“All four of our lines contributed offensively,” Hayden said. “[We also] stayed disciplined and stuck to our game plan.”
Yale takes a break from ECAC action this weekend, playing at Ingalls Rink on Saturday night against Sacred Heart. The puck drops at 7 p.m.