Two days after beginning its trip to Arizona with a dominant shutout win, the No. 12 Yale men’s hockey team barely missed an opportunity to close out the 2016 Desert Hockey Classic with a tournament victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs (9–4–3, 3–3–2 ECAC Hockey) remained locked in a 1–1 tie with Michigan Tech (12–7–3, 9–6–1 WCHA) through 65 minutes of play in the championship game at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Though the game was officially recorded as a tie, the Elis lost the title in a shootout when Yale missed all three attempts at the net, and Michigan Tech put a single shootout attempt past goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 to become the tournament’s inaugural champion.
Though the two teams had scored four goals apiece in the first round of the Classic — Yale in a 4–0 win over host Arizona State, and Michigan Tech in a 4–2 victory against UConn — both offenses were slow to get started in the championship.
The Huskies outshot the Bulldogs 12–7 in the first period, but Yale kept its opponent off the board with 12 saves from Lyon — a figure that matched his save total from the entire game against Arizona State.
Near misses from forwards Chris Izmirlian ’17 and John Hayden ’17 nearly pushed Yale into the lead in the second period, but a strong performance from Husky netminder Jamie Phillips, in addition to seven more saves from Lyon, kept the game scoreless heading into the third period.
Just 1:10 into the final frame, forward Frankie DiChiara ’17 caught a pass from forward Stu Wilson ’16 to one-time the puck from the right circle over Phillips’ shoulder to score the first goal of the game and his second of the tournament.
The Bulldog lead was short lived, however, as just 74 seconds later, Michigan Tech tied the game on a redirection past Lyon. The goal ended Lyon’s perfect tournament slate after 103 consecutive minutes of shutout play.
Neither team found the net after the first three minutes of the third period, bringing the game into overtime. The two unsuccessful shots off Yale sticks, including an attempt by Hayden that was saved by a dive from Phillips, were the only ones in extra time, ending the overtime period with the score still even.
To determine the tournament winner, three players from each bench were chosen to participate in a shootout. A shot to the top corner from Husky forward Alex Petan gave Michigan Tech the advantage after the first round, and failed attempts by forwards Joe Snively ’19, Ryan Hitchcock ’18 and Wilson gave the title to the Huskies.
The game was Hitchcock’s first in the lineup since Dec. 11, as the forward spent much of the break playing with the U.S. Junior National team in Finland, where he became the first Bulldog ever to bring home a medal on the team with a bronze.
The Bulldogs will return to the Northeast this weekend for a home-and-home series against Brown to resume ECAC play. Though Yale’s last two conference games have resulted in losses, the team is 3–0–1 in its last four NCAA contests, including road victories over UMass and Arizona State in the past week.