The last time the Yale men’s hockey team traveled west of the Mississippi River, the 2012–13 Elis fought to knock off Colorado College in a come-from-behind overtime thriller. In the Bulldogs’ return to the Mountain Time Zone on Friday night, Yale, from its very first shot, managed to steer well clear of any similar drama against another unfamiliar opponent.
Before 5,028 fans at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, the No. 12 Bulldogs (9–4–2, 3–3–2 ECAC Hockey) took down Arizona State (5–16–0) 4–0 in the second semifinal of the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic, hosted by the Sun Devils at the home of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. The showcase event replaced the Rivalry On Ice game on the Elis’ schedule, in which Yale had faced and defeated Harvard at Madison Square Garden in each of the past two seasons.
ASU, playing in its first season as a full NCAA Division I member, came into the evening having dropped seven straight contests. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, arrived in Arizona with a modest two-game win streak, their first back-to-back regular-season victories since the team’s opening two games of the 2015–16 campaign.
And the Elis wasted little time in carrying their momentum into Arizona. Yale’s first goal came on its first shot on net, when forward Chris Izmirlian ’17 caught ASU in a line change and found forward Andrew Gaus ’19 moving into the offensive zone on a breakaway. Gaus rifled the puck past Sun Devil goaltender Ryland Pashovitz, and the Bulldogs led 1–0 before two minutes had ticked off the clock.
Though Yale struggled to break down the ASU defense for the remainder of the initial period, the second saw the Elis set a season-high for shots — 21 to ASU’s three — as they added a pair of tallies to their total. Forward Frankie DiChiara ’17 gave Yale a two-goal edge midway through the frame, as he hammered home a rebound following a shot by Izmirlian on the power play.
Late in the period, forward John Hayden ’17 knocked down Sun Devil defenseman Nicholas Gushue just in front of Pashovitz, took control of the puck, and netted his team-high ninth goal of the season.
Fewer than 60 seconds into the third period, forward Joe Snively ’19 rounded out the game’s scoring, knocking another power play rebound past Pashovitz. Yale outshot ASU 40–12 and killed all five Sun Devil man advantages without facing a serious threat.
Gila River Arena hosts a Coyotes game on Saturday night, so the Bulldogs will have to wait until Sunday to try to capture their second tournament trophy of the season. The Elis, who were victorious at the Capital City Classic in Trenton, New Jersey back in October, will face the Huskies of Michigan Tech, who defeated Connecticut 4–2 in the event’s first semifinal.
The Huskies will likely pose a tougher test for Yale than the Sun Devils, as Michigan Tech boasts a scoring offense and scoring defense each ranked in the top 20 nationwide. Just like the Bulldogs, Michigan Tech qualified for the NCAA tournament last season and lost 3–2, in overtime, in the first round.
Sunday’s puck drop from Gila River Arena is scheduled for 5 p.m. EST.