Steve Musco

If the first three games of 2018 are any indication, the New Year is shaping up to be quite successful for the Yale men’s hockey team. Following a pedestrian 6–8 start to the 2017–18 campaign, the Bulldogs buried those memories, giving their fans a reason to celebrate with a three-point weekend against nationally ranked ECAC foes.

Coming off a 5–3 victory over UMass last Friday, Yale (8–8–1, 5–6–1 ECAC) found a late equalizer off the stick of captain and forward Ryan Hitchcock ’18 to salvage a 3–3 overtime draw against No. 4 Cornell (14–2–1, 8–1–1) at Ingalls Rink on Friday evening. One night later, the Bulldogs produced their first three-point weekend of the season after a dominating 5–1 victory over No. 19 Colgate (10–8–4, 6–3–1) that featured a stellar performance in net by goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20 and a pair of goals from forward Ted Hart ’19.

“Over this stretch, we’ve been committed to doing the little things that it takes to win,” forward Robbie DeMontis ’20 said. “Blocking shots, having strong sticks in front of the net, winning one on one battles. If we want continued success, we need to do these things every single night.”

The Bulldogs, who improved to 3–1–1 since the holiday break, jumped out to an early lead on Friday night off a goal from DeMontis, marking just the fourth time the Big Red conceded the opening score this season. Forward Evan Smith ’20 doubled Yale’s advantage roughly 20 minutes later by netting his fifth goal of the season on a rebound shot to give the Elis a 2–0 lead against the country’s second-ranked scoring defense.

But Cornell, a team that averages 3.67 goals per contest, eventually got on the scoreboard when defender Brendan Smith fired a shot past goaltender Sam Tucker ’19 with just 34 seconds remaining in the second period. Tucker, who staved off a pair of power play opportunities earlier in the middle stanza, made 34 saves on the night, but allowed the Big Red to draw level just 69 seconds into the third period after conceding a tally to forward Alex Rauter.

Following a holding minor by Cornell on a breakaway chance by forward Dante Palecco ’21, Yale seemed poised to grab a late lead after the first year was awarded a penalty shot. But Palecco’s shot ringed off the left post as the game remained deadlocked at two goals apiece.

Following a Cornell goal midway through the third period, the Bulldogs trailed 3–2 late in the game and pulled Tucker for an extra skater. The move paid off as Hitchcock snapped a rebound chance past Big Red goalie Matthew Galajda to tie it at 3–3 with just 51 seconds to go. The two teams couldn’t find a winning goal and ultimately settled for their second consecutive draw as the Elis left Ingalls Rink with a resounding result against the nationally ranked Big Red.

“Friday night’s game was a great sign of our team character,” Hitchcock said. “Being able to weather the momentum of losing a lead to a top-five team in the country and coming out with a point in that game was great, but the best part was our entire team knew we could come back and no one showed doubt at any point.”

On Saturday night, Kaczperski made 19 saves in just his fourth collegiate start in goal and backstopped Yale’s defense as the Elis secured a dominant 5–1 win over nationally ranked Colgate. After tying their Ancient Eight foe just a day earlier, the Elis returned to Ingalls Rink on Saturday with determination and confidence that showed on both offense and defense.

The Bulldogs controlled the puck from the opening faceoff, outshooting the Raiders 11–8 in the first period while the two teams traded shots in hopes of landing on the scoreboard. With five minutes remaining on the clock in the first frame, forward Ted Hart ’19 lit the lamp for Yale with a goal assisted by defender Charlie Curti ’19 and Evan Smith.

For the next 18 minutes, Yale continued to exercise offensive control, but failed to boost its lead even while nearly doubling Colgate in shots. However, leading scorer and forward Joe Snively ’19 ended the scoring drought on a fast break opportunity. After a pass from defender Phil Kemp ’21 found Snively, the 5’9 forward used his speed to smoke Colgate defenders and deliver a beautiful shot straight past Raider goaltender Colton Point. Snively’s goal was the lone tally of the second period, before the Bulldogs buried Colgate with a third-period flurry.

Just 39 seconds into the third frame, the talented duo of Hart and Smith struck again when Hart tallied his second goal of the night, handing Yale a three-goal lead. Right as it looked like the Elis might run away with the shutout, Colgate defender Trevor Cosgrove thwarted Kaczperski’s perfect game and scored the Raider’s only goal of the contest. With 15 minutes left on the clock Colgate had ample time to turn around the two-point game but the Eli defense was too sturdy.

“I thought we did a really good job of blocking shots in the game,” Kaczperski said. “There were a few key blocks that helped shut down any offense they had.”

When Colgate forward Ben Sharf was penalized for holding during the final minutes, the Raiders were forced to pull their goalie as Yale assumed the power play. While Point was out of the goal, DeMontis scored his second goal of the weekend and first of the night on an empty netter and Yale took back the three-goal advantage. Just over a minute later, forward Mitchell Smith ’20 sealed Yale’s victory with a last second goal on a short pass from forward JM Piotrowski ’19.

As usual, Yale has little time to celebrate its first three-point weekend, as the Bulldogs play host to Union and Rensselaer next weekend back at Ingalls Rink.

Joey Kamm | joseph.kamm@yale.edu

Jane Miller | jane.s.miller@yale.edu