The No. 8 Yale men’s hockey team entered Friday night’s game against No. 18 St. Lawrence riding a five-game winning streak that included a 5–1 blowout of Dartmouth, a 2–1 defensive battle with Harvard and two 3–0 shutouts. To extend that perfect stretch to six games, the Bulldogs found yet another way to win.
A back-and-forth contest at Ingalls Rink marked the first time since Dec. 5, 2015 that goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 gave up three or more goals. But an offensive outburst from the Elis, including scores from two players returning from injury or suspension and a top-shelf goal from defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16 with just 63 seconds left in the game, ultimately outweighed that defensive showing and gave Yale (17–5–4, 12–4–3 ECAC Hockey) a 4–3 win.
“[St. Lawrence is] a good team, and they make you work for every bit of ice,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “We had to fight back…I think our guys showed a great deal of resiliency. It was an important win for us.”
With an early power-play opportunity just minutes into the first period, a slow-out-of-the gate Yale offense only managed to mount a few scuffles in front of the net midway through the opening frame. It was SLU (16–12–2, 10–7–2), with only two prior shots on goal, that broke the stalemate 10:46 into the period. Saints forward Michael Laidley eluded captain and defenseman Mitch Witek ’16 in a one-on-one situation to fire a shot that soared just over the glove of Yale goaltender Alex Lyon ’17.
Five minutes later, the Elis responded with a goal of their own to tie the game at 1–1. Forward John Hayden ’17 came around the net, catching a pass through traffic from forward Frankie DiChiara ’17. Hayden managed to swing the puck into the net as he fell to the ice, tripped up by a Saint defenseman directly in front of the goal.
Although SLU killed a second power play late in the period, the Yale defense stayed just as strong, limiting the Saints to just five shots before the intermission.
A relatively tame first period would lead into a much wilder second with eight two-minute minors, and just about every possible power-play combination, coming in a span of less than seven minutes. Before the string of infractions, SLU took its second lead when a shot from the side of the net off the stick of Saints forward Brian Ward found a miniscule window because Lyon and the post.
The penalties began just 78 seconds later when forward Carson Cooper ’16 was sent to the box on a roughing call. Both teams were handed multiple power-play advantages, and the number of players on the ice ranged from seven to ten skaters over the stretch.
Yale took advantage of a four-on-three opportunity to even the score once again. After several shots on goaltender Kyle Hayton, forward Joe Snively ’19 sent a pass to defenseman Rob O’Gara ’16, who one-timed a rocket straight past Hayton for the senior’s second goal of the year.
Lyon also faced some trouble in the period, and twin roughing penalties were called in front of the goal after he was knocked to the ground while scrambling back to the net.
Yale did not take the lead until the third period, when forward Chris Izmirlian ’17, who has missed the last five contests due to injury, sent a shot past Hayton for his first goal since Nov. 7. The Bulldogs held onto the advantage for a full nine minutes — the longest lead of the game.
Like Yale, SLU succeeded in fighting back from behind, tying the game with just over seven minutes remaining. Saints forward Tommy Thompson skated fast up the side of the rink, beating Obuchowski to the net and sending the puck past Lyon.
“I really struggled tonight. I felt that I didn’t play well,” Lyon said. “It really speaks a lot to our team that they got out a win like that. It’s nothing short of impressive.”
With a potential overtime period just a minute away, Hayden sent a the puck from the far corner of the rink up to his linemate Snively on the blue line. The freshman sent the puck to a fast-approaching Obuchowski, who launched the puck into the very top of the netting to get past Hayton for a fourth and final time.
After incurring another penalty, its seventh of the night, SLU failed to mount a comeback, and the Bulldogs earned another two points in their final Friday homestand.
“The guys did a good job scrumming the puck on the wall just inside our blue line. When they chipped it out, I saw an opening,” Obuchowski said. “I knew we needed a goal there, so I decided to jump up in the rush and Joe made a nice pass … When he slid across, I knew he was a smaller goalie so I had to definitely get it up.”
The Elis next host No. 20 Clarkson at 7 p.m. on Saturday.