The Yale men’s hockey team concluded its regular season with a rough weekend at home, suffering defeats to both Princeton and No. 5 Quinnipiac. The Bulldogs, seeded sixth in the ECAC, still have home ice advantage and will host RPI in the playoff series next weekend.
The Elis (13–13–3, 11–10–1 ECAC Hockey), who fell to both teams earlier in the season, put up a tough fight this time around. Yale conceded a 3–2 match to the Tigers (10–16–3, 8–12–2) on Friday before going down 4–1 to the Bobcats (25–7–2, 14–6–2) in a no holds barred contest on Saturday. This weekend’s outcome extended Yale’s losing streak to four, after the Elis gave up games to both Dartmouth and No. 16 Harvard last month. Despite the disappointing end to this winter’s regular season, Yale still posts a higher conference percentage (.523) this year than the 2017–18 season (.477).
The game-winner on Friday came with 1:04 remaining on the clock. The Tigers, who never trailed over the course of three periods, claimed the game with a shot from senior All-American Max Véronneau. The goal was not the forward’s first of the night. The first tally came during Princeton’s first power-play opportunity, when Jake Paganelli and Josh Teves set up a Véronneau shot straight into the back of the net. But in the second frame, Yale came onto the ice hungry for reprisal.
Forward Joe Snively ’19 snuck the puck away from a Tiger before skating in over the blueline and passing to forward Kevin O’Neil ’21. The sophomore then fired a low shot past Princeton goalie Jeremie Forget to even the score. The visitors pulled ahead again early in the third when Paganelli ripped the puck past Bulldog netminder Corbin Kaczperski ’20, but the Elis took advantage of their sixth power play to cut the deficit.
“I thought we played well enough to win Friday night,” Kaczperski said. “I just let the team down, frankly. I let in two really soft goals, especially the last one with a minute left. Thankfully for us, it wasn’t a playoff game, and I’m looking at it as I got my bad game out of the way. I really liked the way I played the puck and some of the saves I made in the first two periods. I’m going to use that game as fuel for the playoffs.”
Yale outshot the Tigers 32–22 and had quite a few quality chances to take the lead, but proved unable to convert. Véronneau’s last-minute goal prevented the Bulldogs from finishing among the top four and earning a first-round bye.
The battle of Whitney Avenue on Yale’s senior night was marred by eight brawls, three ejections and four tough goals to take for the Blue and White. The Bulldogs’ outgoing team members — goaltender Sam Tucker ’19; defensemen Anthony Walsh ’19 and Charlie Curti ’19; and forwards Snively, Ted Hart ’19, Andrew Gaus ’19 and JM Piotrowski ’19 — were all honored on the ice prior to the game.
Against the conference’s most successful offense, the Elis gave away three sloppy goals throughout the game, losing the puck at and around their own blueline to give Quinnipiac breakaway tallies that Yale could not recover from. Attempting to ignite the team’s offense, Hart grabbed the Bulldogs’ only goal of the night, working his way past a tough Bobcat defense. The Elis had other chances during the game to make the contest tighter but failed to capitalize as Quinnipiac netminder Andrew Shortridge denied the home side on a couple of occasions with superb glove saves.
“We took over the game, the second half of the first period,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “Then they come out and get an easy goal to start the second and that gave them momentum and we had trouble responding. I thought we won the third period. I think we kind of came together and battled hard right till the end.”
The atmosphere within the sold-out Ingalls Rink was more than a little venomous in Saturday’s cross-town rivalry. On the lighter side, the Quinnipiac college band heckled Tucker after three of the Bobcat’s four goals. But on the ice, things got violent often. Quinnipiac’s captain Chase Priskie was ejected midway in the second after kicking forward Tyler Welsh ’21 — who was lying down on the ice — in the head and chest during a confrontation between both teams. Priskie reacted to his dismissal by throwing and breaking his stick against the glass. Welsh came back to play the rest of the game but Walsh and another Bobcat, Luke Shiplo, were later disqualified in the third after a melee in and around the Quinnipiac D. All three players will miss their respective first playoff game due to suspension. Karlis Cukste and forward Dante Palecco ’21 also received ten-minute misconduct penalties late on in the final frame of the game for yet another incident on the ice.
The puck drops against RPI in the first playoff game this Friday at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.
Bill Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucy Liu | email@example.com