Only 24 hours after its dominant 3–0 victory against Ivy League rival Harvard, the Yale men’s hockey team was unable to complete the weekend sweep, coming up short against the Dartmouth Big Green by a final score of 6–4.
Though the Bulldogs (13–7–3, 8–6–2 ECAC) outshot Dartmouth (11–8–4, 8–6–2) 39–28 — with a 16–6 disparity in the third — Yale was unable to match the consistent offensive firepower of its Ivy opponent. The Big Green saw six different players convert on one of the strongest defensive cores in the nation. Goalkeeper Alex Lyon ’17 let in five goals before conceding the net to fellow sophomore Patrick Spano ’17, who let in one.
Coach Keith Allain ’80 kept it simple in his analysis of his Bulldogs performance and Dartmouth’s ability to net six.
“I don’t think we played very well defensively.” Allain said. “We left guys open, we gave up odd man rushes, and that’s what happens.”
Through the first period, both Yale and Harvard saw a similar number of opportunities and ultimately a similar number of shots — Yale had 10 to Dartmouth’s 12. However, Dartmouth’s knack for finding the back of the net led to the Elis conceding as many goals in one period as they have total in their last four games, matchups against Harvard, Quinnipiac, Princeton and Clarkson. The Big Green converted three times on Lyon, who just recently set the career shutout record for Yale goalies against Harvard.
Down 1–0 following an early Dartmouth goal, Yale’s Mike Doherty ’17 equalized for the Elis on a shorthanded two-on-one break assisted by forward Ryan Hitchcock ’18. However, the tie didn’t last for long, as Nick Bligh was able to sneak one high past Lyon’s short blocker side for the lead. Only five minutes later, Dartmouth’s Brandon McNally found twine again after weaving through the Yale defense, bringing it to his backhand before slipping it past Lyon for the period-closing 3–1 lead.
But even after Yale came out flying in the second, with defenseman Mitch Witek ’16 capitalizing quickly on the Bulldogs’ first power play of the night, the Elis were unable to keep up the pace. Minutes later, Dartmouth struck again to make it 4–2, and minutes after that again off a strange bounce in front of the net off of the boards.
The key factor behind the eventual period ending 5–2 score, however, was not Dartmouth’s offense but its defense, notably goaltender Charles Grant. He found himself many times high-and-dry on Yale opportunities in front, always somehow finding the big save with either his blocker or pads. The final shot tally at the end of the second stood at 23–22 in favor of Yale, a shot count normally indicative of an even game.
Headed into third however, that was not the case.
Early in the third, Yale looked to have all of the momentum. Lyon had been pulled in favor of Spano, in an attempt to shift momentum, and the Elis quickly capitalized. Only four minutes in, defenseman Adam Larkin ’18 was able to net one past Grant off of an assist from forward Stu Wilson ’16.
Two minutes later, it was Wilson’s turn, as his wrister from Grant’s left hash mark found the space between the Big Green goaltender’s chest and arm and subsequently the back of the net. With 14 minutes left in the third, Yale looked within striking distance — down by only one in a 5–4 bout. Suddenly, a game seemingly so far out of reach only minutes prior was again winnable.
However — as the eventual score line would soon tell — the comeback was not to be. With 11 minutes remaining, Dartmouth’s Jesse Beamish was able to stuff a loose contested rebound past a fresh Spano, who couldn’t quite cover the puck in time to get the whistle. And while Yale controlled the remainder of the game, outshooting Dartmouth 16–6 in the third, the Bulldogs were unable to light the lamp. The final score stood 6–4 in favor of Dartmouth.
Though undoubtedly a tough loss for Yale, the Bulldogs remain focused on the next game on the schedule, according to Allain.
“We get up tomorrow, we’re [going to] lift, practice and get ready for next weekend.” Allain said. “Whether you win or lose, we have a process here.”
Yale’s next matchup is against Union College on Friday.