After two periods on Saturday night, the No. 10 Yale men’s hockey team had an upset opportunity when it held a 3–2 lead over defending national champion and current No. 1 Providence. But like every other opponent the Friars have faced this season, the Bulldogs were unable to claim victory.
Yale (5–2–2, 3–1–2 ECAC Hockey), fresh off a three-point conference weekend at the beginning of Thanksgiving break, scored three consecutive goals on Saturday. But the Elis allowed two early goals in the final frame to surrender their lead and, ultimately, the game.
“We didn’t play our best game [against Providence],” forward John Hayden ’17 said. “To be successful, we have to stick to our plan for all 60 minutes, and [Saturday] we weren’t consistent.”
The loss to Providence (9–0–3, 2–0–2 Hockey East) — Yale’s second defeat of the season — followed Yale’s home opening weekend on Nov. 20–21, in which the Elis skated to a scoreless tie against No. 16 Cornell and a 3–1 victory over Colgate the next day.
In front of a sold-out Ingalls Rink crowd against Cornell (6–1–2, 4–1–1 ECAC Hockey), the stars of the night were the goaltenders at both ends of the ice. Yale netminder Alex Lyon ’17 stopped all 28 shots fired at him, and Cornell goalie Mitch Gillam, who prevented all 30 Eli attempts from reaching the net, earned himself ECAC Player of the Week honors after his performance.
Multiple power-play opportunities for either side failed to surmount to a goal, leaving both teams off the board for the full 60 minutes of regulation time.
In the five-minute overtime period — marking the Bulldogs’ third consecutive contest to head into extra time — Yale narrowly outshot Cornell 4–3, including one from the Elis that hit the crossbar, but none of the seven shots could find the net to win the game.
“We expect to win every game, so it wasn’t the ideal weekend,” Hayden said. “But we learned a lot and will use the lessons to help us move forward.”
The Elis rebounded the next day in a decisive victory over a weaker Colgate squad (4–10–1, 1–5–1). The Bulldogs got off to a quick lead with a goal from defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16 two minutes into the game and would never look back, winning 3–1 while outshooting the Raiders 40–20.
Yale built on its lead in the second period, putting up another two goals to establish a three-score advantage. Hayden found the back of the net on a one-timer 8:23 into the period, while defenseman Charlie Curti ’19 took advantage of Bulldog power play to score his first collegiate goal off a pair of assists from forward Frankie DiChiara ’17 and forward Stu Wilson ’16. Curti is the third freshman to find the net this season.
“Cornell was a tough defensive opponent and the scoreboard proved that,” Hayden said. “We elevated against Colgate and kept our composure when the game seemed to get undisciplined.”
Late in the third period, Lyon was just three minutes from turning in a flawless weekend when Colgate defenseman Ken Citron scored to spoil the accomplishment. On the weekend as a whole, Lyon saved 47 of the 48 shots he faced and now stands with a 0.937 save percentage in 2015–16.
A week later, however, the break ended on another note for the Bulldogs. Though this past weekend’s schedule had just a single game on it, it was perhaps the toughest weekend that Yale has had thus far, as Providence is currently undefeated 12 games into the season.
The Friars steadily built a lead in the first period, scoring two goals within the first 11 minutes. A one-timed shot off the stick of forward Cody Learned ’16 with 1:53 left before the first intermission kept the Elis from being shut out in the first period.
“[Carson] Cooper ’16 and Frankie did a great job on the forecheck causing a turnover and retrieving the puck,” Learned said. “Coop made a good pass to me in front of the net and I just tried to shoot it as quickly as I could before the goalie was set.”
Although Providence outshot Yale 11–10 in the second period, the Bulldogs would prove to be much stronger in the frame, in large part due to a five-minute major called on Friar forward Brandon Tanev after a hard hit from behind on forward Joe Snively ’19. The ensuing power play handed the Elis an advantage they would capitalize on to take the lead.
Scoring his fourth goal of the year, forward Ryan Hitchcock ’18 tied up the game with a one-timer set up by captain and defenseman Mitch Witek ’16. Just 19 seconds later, on the same power play, Wilson also found the back of the net to give Yale the lead. The power-play goals, the Elis’ ninth and 10th of the season, pushed Yale’s power-play success rate to 25.6 percent.
“Our power play has had a good start to the year,” Learned said. “We’re excited any time we draw a penalty because we know our power play has a chance to score. It’s a huge asset to our team when the power play is having success.”
Yet the Bulldogs could not hold on. Providence responded early in the third with a pair of goals of its own to retake the lead, which it would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
Hitchcock noted that after the two power-play goals, overly defensive play from Yale ultimately led to the team’s late downfall.
“We seemed to try too hard to hold onto the lead rather than continue to take it to them, which proved costly,” Hitchcock said. “We play our best when we are aggressive and use our speed, and that was something we failed to do in the late second period and early third period.”
The Bulldogs will be back at Ingalls Rink this weekend to take on Quinnipiac and Princeton, in their last two ECAC Hockey matchups of 2015.