6-3 WIN FORCES SUNDAY FINALE
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs had something to prove tonight in game two of the ECAC Quarterfinal series with Brown. The Yale men’s hockey team not only needed a win to stay in the conference playoffs and potentially keep the season alive, the Elis needed to show they could bounce back from consecutive losses for the first time in 2009-10. Tonight’s mission was accomplished with a 6-3 victory before 2,939 at Ingalls Rink to set up a winner-take-all game three Sunday night at the Whale.
Brian O’Neill had two goals, Andrew Miller had a goal and two assists and Denny Kearney chipped in three helpers as the Blue outshot the Bears 43-25. Yale found the net twice in each period while converting two of five man-advantages.
Senior Billy Blase got a second straight start and responded with 22 saves, including 11 in the final period. He and the Eli defense stopped six of seven Brown power plays, and there was plenty of two-man advantage time as well.
It took the Bulldogs (20-8-3) a little over 45 minutes to score last night in game one. It took 26 seconds tonight. Blueliner Tom Dignard deked a Brown forward at the point and then lost control of the puck. He regained it after tangling with a defender and got off a shot that bounced off Brown starting goalie Mike Clemente (20 saves). Broc Little was coming from the corner, got to it first and slipped an off-angle shot over the goalie’s shoulder to make it 1-0 with his 26th goal of the year.
"We were certainly more confident with our game tonight," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "This team has a good mental toughness and a great ability to respond."
The lone penalty of the opening period was against Brown (11-19-4), and it cost them. Jimmy Martin (2nd goal), playing the point on the power play, kept the puck in the zone along the boards as a Brown player got caught behind. The junior defenseman saw the opening and flew to the middle of the slot where he unleashed a low snapshot stick side at 6:11.
"It was big for our confidence to get on the boad early and build off of it," said Kearney. "The puck was bouncing well for us."
Kevin Limbert has been playing much better than his goal production would indicate this season. His first tally since Jan. 16 against Brown at home gave the Elis a 3-0 lead 1:31 into the second. Clemente had just made a monster save on a Little breakaway, and the next Yale rush may have been too soon for the Brown goalie. Limbert, who now has three goals, skated in from the redline after taking a pass from Kearney and used a defender to hide a low shot from the top of the circle that went glove side.
Almost nine minutes later, the lead grew to four. Miller carried the puck from center ice and went around the defense in the right circle while taking the defense and Clemente to the right side of the cage. The rookie center quickly moved the puck to O’Neill on the edge of the circle. His one-timer sailed into the open side for his 13th of the year at 10:28. Brown senior goalie Dan Rosen (17 saves), who made three quality saves in six seconds early the next period during a swarming of Bulldogs, was immediately summoned from the bench to replace the sophomore.
"It doesn't get any easier than that," said O'Neill. "Andy [Miller] made a great pass."
The visitors used a penalty-kill to get on the board at 2:58 of the third. Martin tried to one-time a pass from the point and the puck bounced off a defender and turned into an odd-man rush. Jack Maclellan ended up with a short low shot that went five-hole on Blase.
The Elis still had time left on the advantage and used it to re-gain the four-goal cushion. Miller made a nifty move around a Bear and sent a great lead pass to O’Neill, who re-directed it stick side on Rosen to bump it to 5-1.
"It was important to keep wearing them down. We were moving the puck well. Putting up six goals, we answered the call tonight," said O'Neill.
The rest of the game appeared to be penalty-equalizer time, six straight calls over less than six minutes against the Bulldogs. A mid-slot snapshot from Aaron Volpatti (16th), with the Bears on a 5-on-3, made it 5-2.
Miller (5th) put the finishing touches on the great offensive night with a pretty move around the defense and backhand tuck behind Rosen with 1:41 left.
"We knew we had to win. I think we got those two weeks [playoff bye] out of us. It crossed everyone's mind that it could be the last game of the year for us," said Yale senior Mark Arcobello.
Senior captain Ryan Donald had an apparent goal taken away in the second period because of a Yale penalty… The only change in the Yale lineup from game No. 1 was on defense; Nick Jaskowiak replaced Mike Matczak… Brown’s win Friday snapped an eight-game skid against the Bulldogs… The same set of officials worked both games…. Yale is now 13-0 when converting at least two PPG.
Recap filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Video Highlights by David Dikranian: