Courtesy of Gil Talbot
The Yale men’s hockey team skated to another three–point weekend with a pair of excellent displays against Ivy opposition. The Elis played their best hockey of the year, lighting up the scoreboard offensively and locking down their own zone defensively to shellac Dartmouth 7–0 and fight No. 6 Harvard to a deserved 1–1 draw.
Six different Bulldogs lit the lamp in the destruction of the Big Green on Friday, highlighted by a pair from defender Charlie Curti ’19, who also tacked on a pair of assists. Saturday’s game proved a much tighter affair, but Yale looked set for victory when forward Ted Hart ’19 tipped home a shot to open the scoring with just over three minutes left. However, the Crimson lived up to their national billing and struck a late equalizer to split the points.
“We had another great weekend as a team,” Curti said. “We are improving and learning what it takes to have success and play the way we want to play. It definitely is evident in practice that everybody wants to get better, and guys are working harder and harder each day.”
Dartmouth entered Friday’s game after two consecutive wins, notching 12 goals in the process, including eight against Harvard. The Big Green’s offensive firepower could not ignite in the face of a swarming Yale defense and the composure displayed by Patrick Spano ’17 in net to secure his second career shutout. The Eli attack exploded, finding the back of the net seven times, after tallying just five in their three previous games.
Curti put Yale on the scoreboard first just six minutes into the period, weaving through the Dartmouth defense on an end-to-end jaunt that he finished with aplomb, ripping a shot into the top-right corner. The Yale offense buzzed around the Big Green net, creating numerous chances, but were unable to add to their lead until the second period, despite a host of golden opportunities.
Forward Mitchell Smith ’20 doubled the Bulldog lead just over three minutes into the second frame, tipping home Curti’s slap shot from the point, as the defender chalked up his second point of the evening. Captain and forward John Hayden ’17 extended the advantage with his 14th goal of the season and ninth on the power play, an area that has become his specialty.
Curti grabbed his second of the game to continue his career night, letting fly a laser that nestled into the top corner at 18:04 of the second. The Bulldog backline added its third goal of the contest, as defender Billy Sweezey ’20 netted his first career goal early in the third period. The freshman took a cross-ice pass from Hayden before picking his spot to open his college account.
Less than two minutes later, forward Andrew Gaus ’19 increased the Yale lead to six, scoring from the right circle to pile on to Dartmouth’s misery. Forward John Baiocco ’18 capped off the scoring with his first goal of the season, bringing the Bulldogs to seventh heaven with a delightful one-time finish to ensure the Big Green’s humiliation. Spano earned the second shutout of his collegiate career in the Elis first shutout game of the season.
“Playing our game for the complete 60 minutes was definitely something we have been striving towards and something that made us successful against Dartmouth,” Baiocco said. “Offensively, we got pucks to the net and were relentless with puck battles below the goal line. All four lines contributed, which definitely helped to wear Dartmouth down as the game went on.”
Coming off their biggest win since a 10–3 barn burner against Holy Cross on Jan. 2, 2011, Yale traveled down I-93 to face off in a rivalry clash against Harvard. The Crimson has struggled recently, dropping three consecutive contests before halting its skid with a convincing 3–0 win over a struggling Brown squad on Friday night.
The game belonged to the goalies, as both Spano and Harvard netminder Merrick Madsen produced sterling performances to hold the game scoreless for the first 56:44. Both netminders made a series of stunning saves to preserve the equilibrium and frustrate the two offenses.
The best chances for the Bulldogs came from forward Evan Smith ’20 and forward Robbie DeMontis ’20, but Madsen stood tall both times to deny the freshmen an opening goal. Harvard tested Spano with a number of shots in man-advantage situations, but the Yale penalty kill, which had been breached in six of its last seven games, produced a stifling performance to keep the nation’s best power play off the scoresheet.
“I truly can’t oversell how well Spano played this weekend,” Sweezey said. “That was a big part in us only giving up one goal to two good teams.”
As the clock ticked down towards triple zeroes, the Elis finally broke through and took the lead. DeMontis launched a low shot on net from the point, and Hart, well-positioned in front of the net, tipped the shot home past Madsen for his sixth goal of the year with 3:16 to play.
Yale failed to hold the lead and secure a four-point weekend, as Harvard finally found a path past Spano to snap his scoreless streak at 2 hours, 2 minutes and 49 seconds. Forward Jeff Malone created the equalizer for linemate Luke Esposito with a slick pass across the ice to draw the Crimson level with just 2:07 to play.
Neither side could find a decisive finish in the remaining minutes of the third period or overtime, as they split the points. At the end of the game, Spano and Madsen shared the Tim Taylor Award for game MVP, named after the former Yale head coach. Both goalies allowed just one goal in their two games over the weekend.
“Obviously [it] would have been nice to come away with two wins, but the team battled hard,” Spano said. “Everyone stuck to the game plan we worked on all week. It goes without saying it is an honor to have won the award and get a shutout and I give a lot of credit to my teammates. It’s a team game at the end of the day and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Yale has risen to seventh in the ECAC with 11 points, six of which have been accumulated over the last two weekends.