Steve Musco

With head coach Keith Allain ’80 set to depart for Pyeongchang for the Winter Olympics in less than a week, the Yale men’s hockey team sent him off to South Korea on a high note.

Taking a break from ECAC action to play an out-of-conference series with Arizona State, the Bulldogs put themselves back on the winning track with a pair of thrilling overtime victories over the Sun Devils. Yale (11–11–1, 6–9–1 ECAC Hockey) outshot its opposition by a combined total of 102–52 this weekend at Ingalls Rink, but needed two extra periods and the late-game heroics of forwards Joe Snively ’19 and Evan Smith ’20 to secure a duo of massive victories over Arizona State (7–18–5).

“I don’t know if it puts my mind at ease, but I am certainly more comfortable walking out the door after two wins than I would have been after two losses,” Allain said. “It was a great weekend even though we didn’t have the offensive success we wanted to have. We had to play the same team back to back so it was like a playoff weekend, and I think it was really valuable for us.”

Yale took the ice on Friday looking to notch its first victory in three games against an Arizona State squad playing its first true road game since mid-December. The first period proved to be penalty-ridden for both teams as the Bulldogs and Sun Devils combined to spend 16 minutes in the box during the opening frame. But despite the plethora of extra attackers, the first goal came at even strength when ASU’s Jake Clifford deftly capitalized on a two-on-one chance to beat goalie Sam Tucker ’19 and put the Elis in an early 1–0 hole.

Yale seemed destined to draw level when two Arizona State penalties within a second of each other granted the home squad a five-on-three power-play opportunity late in the first period. But Sun Devils goaltender Joey Daccord preserved his team’s one-goal lead with a series of key saves to hold the Bulldogs scoreless in the first period despite the Elis’ 24–4 advantage in shots on net and dominant puck possession. Allain ultimately saw his team’s offensive efforts rewarded on a great defensive play when forward John Piotrowski ’19 intercepted a pass in the Sun Devils’ zone and promptly wristed a one-timer past Daccord to even the score at 1–1 midway through the second period.

As Daccord made a series of outstanding saves at one end, the Sun Devils produced a rare offensive foray that was rewarded when ASU’s Dominic Garcia fired a centering pass past Tucker to give Arizona State a 2–1 edge.

Early in the final frame, the Sun Devils’ laxity in their own defensive zone came back to bite them again as another errant pass left captain and forward Ryan Hitchcock ’18 with space to skate forward with the puck and beat Daccord to the right pad side, evening things at two goals apiece.

Locked at 2–2, Yale and Arizona State needed an extra five minutes to settle the score despite the Elis chalking up a 44–24 margin in shots on goal. Brett Gruber almost clinched a victory for the Sun Devils, but what looked to be the game-winning shot deflected off the pipe and ricocheted safely into the corner. Shortly thereafter, Snively sniped the puck past Daccord on a 2-on-1 chance to earn a 3–2 victory for the Bulldogs in the overtime thriller.

“We’ve been talking about putting shots over the goalie’s elbow,”  Hitchcock said. “Joe put it in a perfect place.”

The second night of Yale and Arizona State’s double header yielded an almost identical result. Once again, the Elis had no trouble creating offense in front of Daccord and the ASU goal, but despite outshooting the Sun Devils by 20 shots in the first period, the Bulldogs struggled to find the back of the net. Nearly 15 minutes into the opening frame, defender Charlie Curti ’19 finally lit the lamp for Yale. Forward Will D’Orsi ’20 whipped a low shot that Daccord denied with his pad, but Curti crashed the net hard and flicked the rebound home. ASU answered the Bulldog goal just under three minutes later.

Throughout the second period Yale continued to generate offensive opportunities but failed to capitalize on them. The Arizona State penalty kill unit was omnipresent during the middle frame as its players spent eight out of 20 total minutes in the box for minor penalties, but it kept the toothless Yale power play off the scoresheet. Despite the Bulldogs outshooting their opponent 41–13, the teams entered the final period still tied at 1–1.

“In a situation like that it’s easy to get frustrated,” Smith said. “But we kept telling each other to just keep the energy, keep the positivity, and it will pay off.”

The third period opened with Yale still on a power play. Forward Luke Stevens ’20 found success during Yale’s player advantage and notched an unassisted goal on a beautiful high shot that sailed straight past Daccord.

The momentum of the game seemed to swing further in favor of the Elis when Arizona State was assessed another penalty. But Pasichnuk tallied a shorthanded goal to eliminate Yale’s newly gained lead. In the back-and-forth scoring, the Bulldogs claimed the next goal. Defender Brian Matthews ’21 tallied his first career goal with a wrister from the blueline that flew past the screened netminder, handing the Elis their third lead of the night. Once again, the Sun Devils evened the game, thanks to a goal from leading scorer Johnny Walker with under five minutes to play that sent the game to overtime.

The Bulldogs doubled ASU in shots during the extra minutes and Smith replicated Snively’s game winning goal from the previous night with a wrister over Daccord’s shoulder to win the game 4–3 and give Yale its first four-point weekend of the season.

Next up for the Elis is a return to conference play as they host Quinnipiac and Princeton this weekend.

Joey Kamm | joseph.kamm@yale.edu

Jane Miller | jane.s.miller@yale.edu