While the Yale men’s hockey team finally put a blaring end to a five-game losing streak with a win against St. Lawrence, any spark that may have been lit under the Bulldogs was expeditiously extinguished in their following matchups with No. 5 Clarkson and No. 10 Boston College.
After a disappointing homestand against ECAC rivals Dartmouth and No. 12 Harvard that saw the Elis (2–7, 2–6 ECAC Hockey) concede a disconcerting 10 goals over the two-game stretch, the Blue and White entered its subsequent weekend of play hungry for a win at Ingalls for the first time in over three weeks. Those hopes were met as forward Curtis Hall ’22 continued his breakout campaign with two stellar genos — giving the star sophomore a team-high five goals on the year. Hall was not the only player to shine bright against the Saints (3–11–2, 1–5) last weekend, as goalie Nicholas MacNab ’21, who made his collegiate career debut as starting goaltender, also earned his first win, making key stops down the stretch to give Yale the necessary breathing room to grab a 6–3 victory.
“I think a big part of our offensive success came from taking over the net front [the Saints],” forward Will D’Orsi ’20 said. “If you can put pressure on goalie with traffic and crashing the net, it’s going to be all the more difficult for him to stop the puck. We were able to get rebound chances and redirections in front that are tough for any goalie. I think our St. Lawrence game was a great example of our guys doing what it takes offensively to get a win, namely winning the net front.”
MacNab was back in action the following night against the nationally ranked Golden Knight (10–3–1, 5–1) squad that had won six of its last seven games, scoring an average of 3.3 goals over that stretch. For a player making his second collegiate start behind the net against one of the hottest teams in the country, MacNab played exceptionally well. Notching several splendid saves to begin the contest, the junior — who wound up with 30 saves on the evening — granted his offense the ability to get on the board first. But it was not enough, as the Bulldogs failed to stave a talented Clarkson squad in a 4–1 defeat.
The following Tuesday, the Elis headed to Chestnut Hill to compete against another nationally dominant program, Boston College. Though the Blue and White outshot the Eagles 30–25, the latter controlled the ice with a 6–2 decision. The host team found the back of the net three times in the opening frame, but forward Tyler Welsh ’21 responded to the early offensive pressure, registering his third goal of the season with a rebound off the knees after goalie Spencer Knight deflected an attempt from defenseman Billy Sweezey ’20 attempt. Forward Justin Pearson ’22 secured the second point for the Bulldogs with a wrist shot into the top shelf early in the third period. Unfortunately for the Elis, the Eagles took advantage of two power plays in the final frame following Pearson’s success, and Boston College walked out with a significant four-goal margin.
After a disheartening loss to Harvard a week earlier, where the Elis always seemed to find themselves in just the wrong place when it came time to tip home rebounding pucks, it took a mere three minutes for the Blue and White to put a dent in that storyline last Friday against the Saints. Finding himself in an odd-man rush, forward Luke Stevens ’20 delivered a beauty of an assist to forward Mitchell Smith ’20 for a wrist shot that ricocheted off the pipe. No matter, as Stevens, who had stayed with the play the entire time, cleaned up the rebound just as it left the crease and tucked the biscuit past St. Lawrence’s goalie for the 1–0 advantage.
While the Saints wasted no time in equalizing the contest three minutes later, a shot from defenseman Matt Foley ’20, who had stationed himself at the point, was masterfully redirected by Hall en route to the puck’s journey to the back of the net and a 2–1 lead. That score held true though the end of the first period and for the entirety of the second. In the opening minutes of the third, however, Saints forward Ashton Fry took a hard shot from the left-wing side of the rink. While MacNab was able to get a pad on it to stop much of its momentum, it happened to slip out from under him and into the vicinity of a Saint, who wasted no time in roofing the puck into the now empty net, tying the game at 2–2.
Yet again it was Hall who broke the tie, as he managed to get a tip on a shot from Sweezey — fired all the way from the edge of the blueline — gifting the Bulldogs a 3–2 lead with 13 minutes remaining. From then on, empty netters were the story of the match, as forwards Welsh, Dante Palecco ’21 and Kevin O’Neil ’21 all managed to score in the final three minutes of game time to come away with a much-needed 6–3 victory at home.
“We were able to have success against St. Lawrence and score six goals by executing our game plan not only offensively but also defensively,” defenseman Graham Lillibridge ’22 said. “Additionally, we had a balanced attack all game with every line playing well and contributing. We will need more of that moving forward to have sustained success throughout the rest of the season.”
Three minutes again proved to be the magical number for the Elis as they began their match with Clarkson. With the Blue and White pulling its goalie on a delayed penalty against the Knights, Yale defenseman Chandler Lindstrand ’20 rifled a shot from the left circle past the outstretched glove of the Clarkson netminder for the early 1–0 score. But from that point on, the Golden Knights completely took control of the game. From expertly killing off opposing power plays to one-timing assists just outside of the slot, Clarkson put on an absolute clinic of collegiate hockey at its highest level en route to handing the Bulldogs a 4–1 defeat.
“Right now it’s really about us putting together a complete game,” Lindstrand said. “We are happy with the systems we have in place … we’re just working on perfecting them so there is no confusion on what our responsibilities are come game time.”
While Clarkson and Boston College entered the contests as No. 9 and No. 12 respectively, their dominance over the Bulldogs does not come as a surprise given that the teams rose to No. 5 and No. 10 over the weekend. Currently, five ECAC teams place in the NCAA top 30.
The Eagles, who now hold a five-game undefeated streak against Yale, got out to a 2–0 margin with goals from defensemen Ben Finkelstein and Marshall Warren before Welsh tapped a rebound past the BC netminder with his knees off the edge of the crease. While the second period saw little scoring action after MacNab was replaced by Kazcperski, the Eagles capitalized on two power plays in the third starting with an individual effort from forward Logan Hutsko, who then set up a one-timer from forward Julius Mattila in the right circle. Boston College highlighted its program depth as the game witnessed no duplicate scorers for the Eagles’ six total tallies.
The last time the Elis and the Eagles faced each other prior to this year was in 2013, with the game ending in a 3–3 tie.
“Entering this new week, we have to be focused on execution,” forward Luke Stevens ’20 said. “It seems like we are progressing as a group daily but failing to capitalize on some of our grade-A scoring chances. We need to make sure we take advantage of those chances this weekend if we’re going to get a couple wins.”
The Bulldogs resume ECAC play after a brief hiatus, facing Rensselaer on Friday and Union on Saturday in a pair of away games.
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