February 5, 2010

Blase, Little Lead Yale to Win

Bulldogs Beat Dartmouth 4-2 

NEW HAVEN, Conn - Billy Blase has been waiting for his chance this season. He has two wins in net for the No. 8 ranked Yale men's hockey team but has yet to start a game. He made his first appearance at Ingalls Rink this year to start the second period with the Bulldogs trailing by two goals, and the senior goalie stopped the last 18 shots to lead the Bulldogs to a 4-2 win over Dartmouth before another sellout in ECAC Hockey play.

Broc Little scored two goals including the game-winner in the second period to increase his team-high total to 17. Mark Arcobello and Sean Backman had the other Yale tallies.

Bulldogs' freshman Nick Maricic got the nod in goal and stopped seven of nine shots in the first 20 minutes.

"We needed a change," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "It didn't look like it was going to be Nick's night tonight."

Blase (in photo), who last played (12 min., 3 saves) in a relief role at Brown in a 6-5 OT win on Nov. 21, got hot right away to help Yale (13-6-3, 9-4-2) make the comeback.

"I prepare for every game the same way. There was no way I could know that I would play, but I was ready," said Blase, the only current Bulldog with a collegiate shutout. "When stuff does hit the fan, I'm ready. It felt pretty natural and I was a little nervous, but I knew I could handle it. They (Yale teammates) played so well in front of me."

Dartmouth sophomore James Mello made 19 saves in the first period and 47 overall as the home team had a 51-27 shots advantage. Yale scored on two of its six man-advantages while holding the Green scoreless on four attempts.

A minute after a Yale goal by Denny Kearney was taken away by a quick whistle (referee lost sight of the puck), the Big Green jumped on an opportunity in the first period. Dartmouth center Scott Fleming flicked a wrister from 15 feet away along the goal line extended at 5:44 for the 1-0 lead and his 11th tally of the year. Maricic made the initial save but the puck bounced out to Fleming and his shot, headed off target, bounced off the Yale goalie's stick into the net.

The visitors took advantage of a 4-on-4 situations and an odd-man rush to make it 2-0 exactly seven minutes later. Kyle Reeds (4th goal) one-timed a crossing feed from Andrew Owsiak in the low slot.

The Elis had a great opportunity late in the first to get on the board. They managed three shots on target during a 50-second two-man advantage and then couldn't get any closer with the rest of a power play. Yale went into the intermission down a pair despite outshooting the Green 19-9.

Yale went four-plus consecutive periods without finding the net, but the Bulldogs changed in a hurry with a shorthanded goal, a penalty shot and a power-play tally to take a 3-2 lead.

Mark Arcobello stole a pass in the Dartmouth end and zoomed in alone on Mello. The senior forward cruised across the edge of the crease and waited for the goalie to commit before squeezing a shot inside the near post at 6:16 to make it 2-1. It was Arcobello's second shorthander of the year.

Almost five minutes later, Little won the race to a loose puck near inside the blueline and went toward the goal before being pulled down and awarded a penalty shot. The junior forward faked five-hole from up top, deked right and went left to his forehand for his 16th goal of the year.

"When the referee called the penalty shot, I saw Broc bang his stick and get really excited about it. That was a good sign," said Allain.

"I was 0-for-2 on penalty shots (career)," said Little, who has been among the top five in the country in goals per game most of this season. "I went to the other end and collected my thoughts. I knew what I wanted to do."

Yale made it three straight tallies when Little got his second of the night. The Elis cashed in on a major penalty which produced three minutes (Yale had a minor to partially offset it) of advantage time. Kearney sent a pass from behind the net to his linemate in the low slot. Little gathered and fired inside the far post at 17:36.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Blase was knocking shot after shot aside and finished his first frame at Ingalls this year with 10 saves.

The third period was tightly contested and the puck was bouncing around like a pinball in the neutral zone. The Elis broke free with a power-play tally by Backman (14th) that sent the packed house into a tizzy. Brian O'Neill made a great move and feed to the senior forward cutting into the right circle. Backman rifled a wrister off the top of the net at 17:06.

Little, who retaliated after a late push by a Dartmouth defender, was called for slashing with 1:40 left. The visitors pulled Mello and applied the pressure to the Yale end. The Bulldogs responded with key clears and a few near misses at the open net before running out the clock.

The comeback win was the first by the Bulldogs when trailing after the first period this season.

The Bulldogs are home Saturday afternoon at 4 with Harvard. The game is already a sellout and tickets will not be sold at the rink.

 

Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director

 

Video Highlights by David Dikranian: