Courtesy of Steve Musco
The No. 19 Bulldogs were hard at work on the ice during the winter break, playing five times during the holidays. The blue and white had a mixed showing — two losses, one tie and two wins.
The Bulldogs’ (8–5–3, 6–2–1 ECAC) slate kicked off with a 5–2 exhibition win at home against McGill. The following games included a frustrating defeat at the hands of the University of Connecticut (7–13–1, 2–10–1 Hockey East), a thrilling 5–5 tie at New Hampshire (7–8–6, 3–5–3), a narrow 4–3 overtime loss at Maine (7–11–2, 3–5–2) and, most recently, a 3–1 win against Sacred Heart (5–11–2, 5–7–1 Atlantic Hockey).
“We felt that we were playing the right way even if we didn’t get the desired result every game,” defenseman Billy Sweezey ’20 said. “However, our play was encouraging, and we just need to put together a full 60 minutes to be successful. We are looking forward to the rest of the year and all the ECAC games we have coming up.”
The Elis set Ingalls Rink afire in the exhibition fixture against the Redmen and Martlets. Forwards Dante Palecco ’21, Mitchell Smith ’20, Evan Smith ’20 and Will D’Orsi ’20 all secured goals for Yale. Evan Smith provided the highlight of the game when he slickly dodged a defender and fired the puck past McGill’s netminder for the Bulldogs’ third goal with just under 11 seconds left in the first frame.
Still, Yale was unable to fully transfer that momentum into its New Year’s Eve matchup against state rivals UConn, finishing off 2018 with a disappointing 3–1 loss. Despite not being able to clinch the win, the Elis had a clear advantage in puck possession and shots on goal, outshooting the Huskies by 16 shots.
Defenseman and captain Anthony Walsh ’19 scored the Bulldogs’ sole goal of the night to tie the score 1–1. Forward Luke Stevens ’20 brought the puck into the opposition’s third and dished it out to a waiting Ted Hart ’19 at the corner. Hart then passed it back to the high slot, where Walsh fired it in gloveside.
The Huskies struck again midway through the final frame to make it 2–1 before sealing the win late in the game after Bulldog goalie Sam Tucker ’19 was pulled. During the last period, the Elis hit the frame of the goal on three different occasions, and forward Joe Snively ’19 missed a one-on-one against the UConn netminder.
Yale then skated to a 5-5 overtime tie with New Hampshire.
The Bulldogs raced to a 3–0 lead late in the first period, with forwards Robbie DeMontis ’20 and Kevin O’Neil ’21 instrumental in all three goals.
The Elis then saw a resurgent Wildcats team in the second period but held on to a 5–3 lead. Tucker replaced Corbin Kaczperski ’20 in goal during the third period for the Bulldogs at 5–4. Unfortunately for Tucker, who had a solid period, UNH leveled the playing field late on to leave the score at 5–5.
At the Elis’ next match game against Maine, three different Yale players, Evan Smith, Mitchell Smith and fellow forward Andrew Gaus ’19, scored as the team dramatically overcame a 3–1 deficit to take the game to overtime. But the success story was cut short when Eduards Trailmaks gave the Black Bears the win with 47 seconds left on the clock.
In its final game before the end of break, Yale found victory at home against Sacred Heart.
Although the Pioneers grabbed the first tally of the game, the Elis bounced back with a pair of goals in the second period. Gaus expertly flicked the puck over the goalie to even affairs before Mitchell Smith hit forward Justin Pearson ’22 with a laserlike pass, which Pearson deftly fired through a screen over the goalie’s shoulder.
The Bulldogs then scored an insurance goal when SHU went for an extra skater. Defenseman Chandler Lindstrand ’20 took control of the puck and flung it along the glass to Snively at the other end of the ice. The star forward put the game to bed, scoring the empty netter with 39 seconds left.
The tough winter break games should be promising for a team primed for ECAC conference play.
“We are just looking to get better every day here and secure a top spot in the ECAC,” Palecco said. “All of these conference points matter a ton, so we are looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
The Bulldogs return to the ice against No. 16 Clarkson on Friday night at Ingalls Rink.
Lucy Liu contributed reporting.
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