For over 40 minutes on Saturday night, the nation’s longest winning streak seemed to be in real jeopardy at Ingalls Rink. The No. 8 Yale men’s hockey team, winner of six in a row but down 1–0 to No. 20 Clarkson since early in the first period, could not find a way to put a puck behind stalwart Knight goaltender Greg Lewis.
And then, in the final frame of the Elis’ senior night, a freshman started the comeback — and, fittingly, a senior finished it off.
In the second game of yet another weekend sweep, Yale (18–5–4, 13–4–3 ECAC Hockey) took down Clarkson (16–13–3, 8–9–3) 3–1 in front of a sold-out home crowd. Goals from linemates Joe Snively ’19 and Stu Wilson ’16 helped the Bulldogs claw back against a ranked opponent for the second night in a row before an empty netter by forward Ryan Hitchcock ’18 sealed the victory — Yale’s seventh straight, and the 15th time in the last 16 contests that the Elis have avoided defeat.
The night did not start out so well for the Bulldogs, who saw themselves playing from behind for the majority of the game. In an uncharacteristic lapse, Eli goaltender Alex Lyon ’17 let a relatively low, soft shot from Clarkson defenseman Aaron Thow slip between his legs and slide into the net before three minutes had ticked off the clock.
It was the weekend’s fourth goal allowed in just 62:49 by the All-American netminder, who had allowed three St. Lawrence shots into the back of the net on Friday. But Lyon, who had not previously allowed more than two goals in a game in over two months, would not let another puck by him all night.
His team needed him to play at his best early on Saturday, because the first period was largely controlled by the visiting Knights. Clarkson outshot Yale 11–9 in the opening frame and had the period’s next-best scoring chance, a power-play look which was denied only because Lyon, moving side-to-side through the crease, managed to get the edge of his right pad on the puck.
Nevertheless, the Bulldog offense began to take control in the second period. A seven-minute stretch midway through the frame saw the Elis send nine pucks at Lewis between two Lyon saves, and by the time the game entered the final period, the home team had a 23–16 edge in shots.
Those efforts finally paid off five minutes into the third period, thanks to the speed and vision of Snively. A wraparound goal, for which the standout freshman simply beat Lewis from one side of the net to the other, evened the score and put momentum firmly on Yale’s side.
Snively, Wilson and forward John Hayden ’17, whose line has been the catalyst for the Elis during their unbeaten streak, came through once again to put the Bulldogs on top for good. This time it was Wilson — with just 2:30 left in the game — finding a rebound off of a Hayden shot and netting the go-ahead goal for Yale. Just as defenseman Ryan Obuchowski ’16 had done on Friday against St. Lawrence, a senior scored late in the third period, on senior weekend, to secure victory for the Bulldogs.
Hitchcock added an empty-net goal with one second still remaining, and the clock would never hit zero. The buzzer sounded nearly simultaneously with Hitchcock’s score, cueing the Elis to pour off the bench in celebration seemingly early. The team shook hands under a clock that read 1:0.
Yale closes its regular season next weekend at the two book-ends of the ECAC: 12th-place team Princeton and No. 1 Quinnipiac, each of which defeated the Bulldogs in early December. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.