Despite falling to No. 2 Cornell 4–0, Yale men’s hockey jumped up in the ECAC Hockey standings this weekend with a decisive 4–2 victory over Colgate in the last home game of the season.
The Bulldogs (12–13–2, 9–9–2 ECAC Hockey) met a tough and talented team on Friday night, and the Big Red (21–2–4, 16–2–2) showed the Ingalls crowd exactly why they are second best in the nation. The Elis let in two early on to give the Big Red a comfortable 2–0 lead. When defenseman Jack St. Ivany ’22 slapped the puck into the top shelf in the first, it appeared as though the Elis might turn the game around. Yet, officials called offsides after video review which interrupted any momentum the Bulldogs created. Against Colgate, though the Raiders heavily outshot the Blue and White, Yale turned its weekend around, and four different Elis found the back of the net to secure the victory.
“Obviously Cornell was not what we wanted,” goalkeeper Corbin Kaczperski ’20 said. “None of us had a good game. Not a single one of us. So, the main focus going into [Saturday] was just: compete. We needed to compete.”
On Friday night, the Bulldogs had their second opportunity of the season to upset Cornell, the top program in the league. Yet, as the first period chugged along, that ambition slowly but surely dissipated. It didn’t take long for the Big Red to make their presence felt on the ice, continuing an early-goal trend that has defined Cornell’s season as of late. With a delayed penalty upcoming on the Elis, the Big Red smartly pulled its goalkeeper in return for an extra attacker, all the while maintaining possession of the puck in the offensive zone. Stationed at the half wall of the right-wing, Cornell’s forward threaded a crisp apple through a gap in the Yale defense to a Big Red positioned at the left hash. A one-timer past the outstretched Kaczsperski was executed to perfection and the 1–0 lead went to Cornell.
Not two minutes later, the Big Red’s offensive brilliance was back in full display. Finding himself with the puck behind the net, forward Tristan Mullin caught the Bulldog defense puck watching as he found a Cornell stricker unguarded at the right hash. A slap-shot later, and the score now read 2–0 in the Big Red’s favor.
“Their offensive efficiency is pretty good, they can sustain pretty good pressure,” captain and forward Evan Smith ’20 said. “That’s definitely why they won that game.”
Halfway through the first came the turning point of the game. Yale seemed to have stopped the bleeding with an apparent power-play goal from St. Ivany. Yet, upon review, video replay clearly showed a Yale attacker offside. The goal was consequently stricken from the record. Less than two minutes later, Cornell made the Blue and White pay with its third goal to take dominating control over the contest.
While Yale played impressive defense in the second period to the tune of zero goals allowed, Cornell returned the favor — holding the Elis to a miniscule three shots on goal.
The third period was not much different, as Yale continuously struggled to find openings in the Big Red defense. A Cornell goal later, and a 4–0 loss fell upon the Elis. With the victory, the Big Red won its third consecutive Ivy League title outright and 20th in program history.
Saturday night commenced with the honoring of nine senior Bulldogs: forwards Luke Stevens ’20, Mitchell Smith ’20, Evan Smith ’20, Robbie DeMontis ’20 and Will D’Orsi ’20, defensemen Chandler Lindstrand ’20, Matt Foley ’20 and Billy Sweezey ’20 and goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20. Moments later, the puck dropped, and the Blue and White got off to a fiery start with forward Dante Palecco ’21 stealing the first point for Yale.
“It’s the way to go out, everyone played a good game and everyone did it for the seniors,” Evan Smith said. “It’s just about coming mentally prepared and ready to go every day.”
Though the Raiders managed to tie it up at one a piece early on in the second period, defenseman Phil Kemp ’21 rocketed the puck past a slew of enemy defensemen and into the back of the net, giving the home team the lead yet again. This time, the Bulldogs did not let the advantage slip away. In the final period, forward Justin Pearson ’22 nailed the puck in at the doorstep after a shot by forward Curtis Hall ’22 was deflected.
It was this goal, head coach Keith Allain ’80 said, that ultimately decided the victor.
“Even though they had some offensive zone possession time, I felt we defended well. We kept them from our net pretty well,” Allain said. “A lot of their shots were off angle from the side. To me, the big goal of the game was the 3–1 goal. Up until that point, it was anyone’s game.”
Yet Yale was not finished. With three minutes left in the final period, Colgate pulled their goalie to give room for a sixth player on the ice. Forward Tyler Welsh ’21 snatched the puck out of Raider possession and found the empty net to set the score at 4–1.
Colgate answered quickly. Having put immense pressure on the Blue and White’s offense in the later part of the third, the Raiders finally broke through when Arnaud Vachon cut the Colgate deficit to two with 1:18 left on the clock. Immediately following the score, Vachon was penalized for roughing, but the Canadian was visibly unwilling to enter the penalty box. “Have a seat,” echoed around the rink after an official shouted these words at the Raider. The senior night contest would wrap up 4–2.
The Elis have been buckling down on their defense as of late, and the team has come a long way since its 2–1 loss to Colgate in the fall. Yale’s plan on Saturday was to play strong defense, which would then lead players to secure offensive chances, St. Ivany said.
“Honestly, I thought our defense did a great job,” Kaczperski said. “A lot of the shots were from the perimeter, and Colgate’s [main objective] is to shoot wide and crash the net for rebounds. We did a really good job of taking away time and space inside the box, so they really didn’t get a lot of second chance opportunities. I was just trying to get in front of the puck when I could, and my defense took care of the rest.”
Conference playoffs loom for the Yale men’s hockey team, and the Bulldogs will have the opportunity to scrape up final league points on their travel stint next weekend.
The Bulldogs will take on Quinnipiac and Princeton for the final weekend of the regular season, needing a tie against either team to clinch home-ice in the first round of the ECAC playoffs.
Jared Fel | firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Hedeman | email@example.com