In the final weekend of regular season ECAC play, the Yale Bulldogs accomplished two of their most important goals of the season: locking up the Ivy League title and securing a first round bye for the ECAC tournament. The Elis (17–7–5, 12–6–4 ECAC) completed a two-game stand at Ingalls Rink, drawing 2–2 against Colgate (19–11–4, 11–7–4 ECAC) in the first contest and posting a dominating 4–0 win over Cornell (11–12–6, 9–9–4 ECAC) in the second matchup.
“Finishing the regular season with an Ivy League title is rewarding, but also a reminder of the work required to win more championships,” forward John Hayden ’17 said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better night to honor our seniors [on Saturday against Cornell].”
In the weekend’s first match, against Colgate, the Bulldogs faced a hard-fought physical game replete with glass-shaking hits and well-earned penalties. Going into the night, Yale sat just a point ahead of Colgate in the ECAC standings and needed at least a tie to secure a first round bye in the conference postseason. With a title and postseason positioning on the line, Yale skated out onto the ice to face one of their most challenging opponents of the season. Throughout the first period, neither team seemed capable of breaking through for points as both the Bulldog and Raider defenses took advantage of some sloppy offensive control.
However, as the second period opened up, so did the scoring. Colgate registered the first point of the night when Mike Borkowski fired a shot past goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 in the third minute. However, Yale responded quickly when John Baiocco ’18 scored off of a Matthew Beattie ’16 assist. With the game tied at one goal apiece, defenseman Rob O’Gara ’17 gave Yale the lead just 13 seconds after Baiocco’s goal.
Following the flurry of scoring, the match devolved into a series of scrums that saw Yale and Colgate players punching and shoving each other to accrue a number of roughing penalties. Brawling finally aside, the match continued locked at 2–1 into the third period.
When the Raiders came out onto the ice after the second intermission, Colgate outplayed Yale, scoring a second time to equalize and forcing the Bulldogs to scramble to recover. Despite Yale’s reorganization after losing its lead, neither team proved capable of finding a winner, forcing the match into overtime where Yale secured the point it needed to clinch an ECAC tournament bye.
“We need to be able to get the jump on teams moving forward,” Carson Cooper ’16 said after the comeback draw. “It can be costly to let teams get ahead of you.”
In their final game, the Elis, sitting a point out of the first place in the Ivy League, crowned themselves Ivy League champions on the back of a 4–0 shutout win over the Big Red. Though goals from Mike Doherty ’17, Chris Izmirlian ’17, Trent Ruffalo ’15 and Cooper ultimately secured the win for Yale, defensive play was the story of the night. The Bulldogs’ much-acclaimed unit allowed only 16 shots throughout the match, its best effort all season, while net minder Lyon recorded his ninth career shutout, a Yale best, and his sixth of the season, which ties him for the national lead. Needing a win to secure an Ivy League title, Yale delivered a clutch performance, which earned the Bulldogs a championship and the No. 3 seed in the ECAC.
“Overall it was a solid weekend from us,” Doherty said. “Friday we thought we could have been sharper against Colgate, but we carried over the positives from that game into Saturday, knowing that we had an Ivy title on the line. Our goal is to win championships, and this is a great first step.”
Yale’s next game will come in the ECAC tournament when they host a quarterfinals match on the weekend of March 13.