In its final two road games of the regular season, the Yale men’s ice hockey team strengthened its hold on third place in the ECAC with a three-point series against Quinnipiac and Princeton.
“With a week left in the regular season it was great to take three out of four points,” forward Frankie DiChiara ’17 said. “Now we need to go out and take care of business this weekend and finish the regular season on a good note heading into the playoffs.”
On Friday night, the Bulldogs (16–7–4, 11–6–3 ECAC) traveled down the road to take on cross-town rival Quinnipiac (20–8–4, 15–2–3) in the two teams’ second matchup of the season. Less than a month ago, the two teams played to a 2–2 stalemate in front of a packed crowd at Ingalls. The result was no different Friday night, when neither team was able to claim victory in a contentious matchup between two of the top-ranked squads in the nation.
Quinnipiac jumped out to an early lead less than five minutes into the opening period before the Bulldogs countered with one of their own a few minutes later. Midway through the first, DiChiara, who helped lead the team with three goals this weekend, pulled a move in front of the net and was able to put one past the Quinnipiac netminder. Yale, however, turned the puck over and paid the price before the end of the first period to put the team in its second hole of the night.
But defenseman Rob O’Gara ’16 was there to respond with a slap shot halfway through the second period. From then on out, both teams were unable to seal the win despite quality scoring chances for both sides.
Netminder Alex Lyon ’17 stopped 23 pucks on the night and both teams were even at 25 shots apiece. The Elis also managed to kill all four of the Bobcats’ power plays.
O’Gara noted that the team played pretty effectively against the conference leader despite a few slip-ups.
“I think on Friday we played a strong team game and applied strong pressure all over the ice which forced them into mistakes,” O’Gara said. “We definitely could have capitalized on our chances better and avoided mistakes that led to the goals against and that left us with the tie, but it was a good road performance in a hostile environment.”
On Saturday night, the Bulldogs switched their focus to the other end of the ECAC spectrum, taking on last place Princeton (4–19–3, 2–16–2) and coming away with a 6–2 win. Lyon had 17 saves on a night when the Elis vastly outshot their opponent, 38–19.
The action began with Princeton taking its first and only lead of the night midway through the first period before Yale notched two goals of its own in rapid succession. The first of the two came when DiChiara scored on a power play; just over 30 seconds later, forward Cody Learned ’16 knocked the puck in off a rebound.
The next period saw two more Bulldog goals by forwards John Hayden ’17 and John Baiocco ’18 and another Tiger tally. The goal, assisted by forward Trent Ruffalo ’15, was Hayden’s seventh of the season, while Baiocco’s goal was the third of his collegiate career. The Bulldogs wrapped up the match in the third as DiChiara had another goal early and Learned put the nail in the coffin off an empty netter with less than three minutes remaining.
“It was nice to score against Princeton,” Learned said. “I think [Carson] Cooper [’16], Frankie and I are really starting to click as a line … it was an important win for our team with the league standings so tight.”
With this weekend’s results, Yale now has accumulated 25 points and stands two points out in front of Colgate and Harvard and four behind St. Lawrence in the ECAC standings. The Bulldogs can clinch a bye in the first round of the upcoming conference tournament with two points this weekend and can secure third place with three.