Blue Drops Season Finale But Gets Outright Title
KEARNEY GETS 2 GOALS
HAMDEN, Conn. - The Yale men's hockey team erased deficits the last three games to earn victories, but the No. 4/5 ranked Bulldogs couldn't make it four against Quinnipiac before a sold out TD Bank Sports Center on the last night of the regular season. The Bobcats, trailing 2-1, tallied three straight to take a 4-3 victory and earn a split of the season series.
The Bulldogs, who had their win streak end at seven games, still had good news despite the loss. Cornell, which could have shared Yale's regular-season championship with a win over RPI at home tonight, skated to a 1-1 OT draw with the Engineers. Yale, the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs, has a week off before hosting a quarterfinal series on March 11-13. The Bobcats (17-15-2, 11-11-0) hosts Dartmouth next weekend in the first round of the ECAC Tournament.
Denny Kearney, with his gold-medal (freestyle mogul) winning sister, Hannah, back from the Olympics at Vancouver, enjoyed his second two-goal outing against the Bobcats this season. The other Yale goal came off the stick of Brendan Mason.
Nick Maricic made 23 saves and stopped two of the three Quinnipiac power plays. His second period (12 saves) was the busiest of the night, but he made quality saves in all three frames on a weekend he played all six periods.
The Bulldogs (19-7-3, 15-5-2) outshot the Bobcats 38-27 but were just one of five on the man-advantage. Dan Clarke's 35 saves were enough to hold on for victory, but the Elis put a late scare into the Quinnipiac netminder.
After a sloppy first half of the opening period for both sides, the Bulldogs put one past Clarke on a Little to Kearney connection at 10:12. Little had the puck low in the right circle and hit Kearney cutting to the goal. The junior forward's initial shot was saved, but Kearney slapped at the rebound and sent it inside the near post for his seventh of the year.
Maricic, who made a great kick save on D'Arcy Oakes with 1:51 left in the first, was the victim of a hard-working short-handed goal to even things with 42 seconds left. Brandon Wong stole the puck from a Yale player trying to get the puck up the ice with a man-advantage. Wong saw defenseman Zach Hansen (3rd goal) coming into the high slot and put it on his stick. The Bobcat blueliner put it back quickly behind the Eli freshman, the fourth shorthanded tally for Yale opponents this winter.
The Elis, who had a 14-6 edge in shots, were scoreless on three advantages in the first but cashed in the initial opportunity of the middle frame. Kearney got the puck near the dot of the left circle, held to see what the defender would do and then sent a low shot through Clarke's legs.
"Hopefully I will start scoring against some other teams," Kearney said in reference to having four of his eight goals in 2009-10 against Quinnipiac.
Greg Holt's full-speed cruise behind the Yale net tied the game at 2-2 midway through the second. He carried over the blueline and went behind Maricic before wrapping a shot around for his ninth tally of 2009-10.
The Cats made it two straight with a power-play tally at 13:45 of the second. Eric Lampe carried around the Yale defense on the left side before sending a crossing pass to Jean-Marc Beaudoin (11th). The senior winger was busting it to the net on the opposite side and tapped the pass into the opening.
The home team didn't put sustained pressure on the Yale net, but there were numerous odd-man rushes that caught the defense off guard. The third consecutive goal by the home team came after another Yale penalty. Beaudoin's rebound put-back was too much for the Eli netminder to stop at 7:03 of the third.
The Elis were unsuccessful on a pair of advantages late in the third but cut the lead to one with a pretty conversion. Mason one-timed a beautiful crossing pass from Tom Dignard to make it 4-3 with 4:47 left. The Yale defenseman spotted the junior center in the left circle and got him the pass quickly.
There were a number of quality chances to even the score over the last few minutes. Seconds after Maricic went off the ice, Andrew Miller's shot from the point bounced off the post. That was the last legitimate chance for the Blue.
The Yale players, despite having secured its second straight conference regular season title, were expectedly dejected about the loss. Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, was already talking about the next two weeks.
"It's pretty special," he said. "Coaching kids like we have, there are some expectations. Still, when it happens, you have to say wow. The kids in that locker room mean a lot to me."
Yale fell two places to No. 8 in the USCHO Pair Wise ranking system after the loss... Senior forward Mark Arcobello broke the school record for games played with his 126th... The Yale forward lines stayed the same from Friday to Saturday; The one change was on defense where Ken Trentowski was in for Nick Jaskowiak... This is the first time Yale and Quinnipiac have played a season finale... Hannah Kearney, Denny's sister, was acknowledged by Quinnipiac with an announcement. She got up, waved and showed her gold medal during a standing ovation... Tickets are available for the ECAC Quarterfinals series at Ingalls Rink. Call 203.432.1400 to order tickets now.
Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Denny Kearney image by Sam Rubin '95