Courtesy of Steve Musco
A new year and a new semester oversaw the No. 20 Yale men’s hockey team skate back into ECAC action with a conference homestand against No. 10 Clarkson and St. Lawrence this past weekend. Although the Bulldogs fought valiantly for all six periods on the ice, they emerged from Ingalls Rink with just a single victory.
On Friday, Yale (9–6–3, 7–3–1 ECAC Hockey) first played a formidable Clarkson (16–6–0, 7–3–0) side. Though well-versed in tight games this season, the team ultimately fell victim to a pair of goals. However, the Elis rallied impressively against the Saints (3–18–1, 1–8–1) on Saturday, winning 3–2 to assert themselves atop the conference standings with an outstanding offensive effort.
“I thought we played a really good game [against SLU],” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “Anytime you generate 50 shots on board you have to be doing a lot of good things offensively. The one thing I didn’t like was that we could have been more efficient on the ice. Overall it was a solid game and a great win for us.”
The Elis hosted Clarkson in a nationally-ranked matchup on Friday night at the Whale. The match was anticipated to be tough, as the Golden Knights came in looking to take revenge for their defeat in Potsdam, N.Y., earlier in the season.
Yale struck first with a power play goal by forward Evan Smith ’20 four minutes into the game. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, who outshot Clarkson 15–5 in the first, the Golden Knights voracity and took their chances to pull ahead. The “away side” scored the equalizer midway through the opening period before taking the lead on its own advantage to make the score 2–1 in favor of Clarkson at the end of the first period.
Forward Kevin O’Neil ’21 then leveled the score a mere two minutes into the second. The goal came after forward Robbie DeMontis ’20 won a face-off, giving O’Neil the opportunity to guide the puck past the helpless Clarkson netminder and even the game at two goals apiece.
Momentum fell away for the Blue and White as the Golden Knights responded with another two goals in the second frame in similar fashion to the first. Yale was unable to find the energy needed to come out on top, ultimately suffering a 4–2 defeat.
“We had spurts of really great hockey against them and then we had spurts of terrible hockey as well,” goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20 said. “We have to play a full 60-minute game to even have a chance and we did not do that at all. Our goaltending also has to be better. I can’t let up four goals in the first half of the game — we aren’t going to win any games if I do that. My job is to give the team a chance to win and I didn’t do that for them. We did not win that game for a lot of reasons, but those two things are the main reasons I would say.”
Saturday night saw the Bulldogs bounce back with a 3–2 win over St. Lawrence, who Yale topped 5–3 earlier in the season. In an unusual resolution, three blueliners found the back of the Saints’ net — the first time this winter that Yale defenders accounted for all the goals of a game.
The Bulldogs peppered Saints goalie Daniel Manella with a season-high 50 shots on goal. The consistent offensive output paid off halfway into the second period when defender Charlie Curti ’19 took a pass from Smith and scored on a power play. Just two minutes later, defender Phil Kemp ’20 fired a shot from near the blue line past Manella to give Yale a 2–0 advantage heading into the third period.
After taking a feed from O’Neil, defenseman Graham Lillibridge ’22 notched his first collegiate tally on a long shot into the top shelf. St. Lawrence forwards Alex Gilmour and Cade Gleekel followed up with two goals late into the last period, but the Bulldogs put up a fortified defense to secure their seventh conference win.
“The forwards did a great job to win the puck and switch sides with it,” Lillibridge said. “Andrew Gaus [’19] then came around the net and made a nice pass to me in the slot so I was able to shoot right away. We didn’t play our best Friday night, but Saturday night was a good win and a bounce back from the night before. I liked the way we played to maintain the lead and secure the win after St. Lawrence scored their second goal.”
Yale is now tied for first in the ECAC Hockey standings at 15 points, alongside No. 12 Cornell and No. 6 Quinnipiac.
The Bulldogs return to the ice this weekend to face Union and Rensselaer.
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