January 2, 2010

Bulldogs Advance To Championship Game

Backman's 2 Goals Lead Blue, Malcolm Earns Win in Net

MADISON, Wis. -- The battle of Bulldogs went to ECAC Hockey when the No. 8/9 Yale men's team ended the nation's longest unbeaten streak in a 6-1 win over No. 11 Ferris State. Sean Backman's two goals and one assist helped the Bulldogs of Yale end a 10-game string by the Bulldogs of the CCHA in the opening contest of the 2010 Badger Hockey Showdown at the University of Wisconsin's Kohl Center.

Yale (8-3-2), which has won three straight and six of the last seven, will face either Merrimack or host No. 7 Wisconsin in the tournament title contest Sunday evening. Scoring the game's last five goals, including four in the final frame, put the Elis in position to capture their first Badger Showdown championship in the event's final year.

Backman, a senior forward with 10 goals this winter, had the decisive tally in the second before adding another in the third period. He and his speedy teammates outshot FSU 41-24 while converting two of five man-advantages. The defending ECAC champion Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring and now have 38 goals in the last seven outings.

"We were well prepared for this game," said Backman. "We certainly had fresh legs and were able to push the pace. It took a few shifts to get into it, and our timing was off. We were able to settle down and make some plays."

Freshman Jeff Malcolm made 23 saves, including 11 in the middle frame, to help Yale win its fourth game in six against ranked teams.

Despite nearly a full month layoff since beating Princeton on Dec. 5, the Bulldogs came out buzzing and were able to keep the puck in the Ferris State end for most of the first five minutes while producing the game's first six shots on net.

Yale's ninth shot on target found the back of the net. Brian O'Neill's tip-in tally from the edge of the crease gave the Blue a 1-0 lead on his seventh goal of the season. O'Neill, who had three points and now has a team-high 19, re-directed a shot from junior defenseman Jimmy Martin at 10:52.

Ferris State (13-4-2), which had not lost since Halloween night at Alaska, tied the score less than three minutes later when Casey Haines' shot from the slot went upper corner. That was all FSU could manage to support the 35-save effort by Taylor Nelson, who entered the night with a 1.73 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.

Backman, who converted a nice feed on the power play from Andrew Miller, beat Nelson with a nasty wrister from the left circle at 19:14 of the second. That goal was the difference and opened the flood gates for Yale's offense.

Denny Kearney tallied with the man-advantage on a wrister from the top of the circle early in the third before captain Ryan Donald set up Backman's second goal at 12:26.

Broc Little's 11th goal of the year, a wrist shot from the top of the circle off Brendan Mason's back pass, put the game out of reach. Chad Ziegler finished off the scoring with 34 seconds left. Kevin Peel, who had two assists, was also part of that scoring play.

"They [tournament officials] had mentioned the 10-game unbeaten streak last night at the banquet, but we were just thinking about winning a game and getting into the championship contest," said Donald. "We knew they were a skating team that could use its speed. We did outskate and outwork them. Our work ethic and speed really was evident in the second and third periods."

Box Score

Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director

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