Yale Improves to 10-1, Stays Perfect in ECAC
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The battle of the top ranked offense vs. the nation's best defense went to the guys shooting the pucks. The No. 2 ranked Yale Bulldogs, who own the top scoring offense in college hockey, got goals from four different players and a perfect outing from goalie Ryan Rondeau in a 5-0 win over No. 13 Union.
The Bulldogs (10-1, 6-0 ECAC), who remained perfect in conference play while moving into a tie for first place, won their fifth straight contest and a second consecutive against a ranked opponent this weekend before another packed house at Ingalls Rink.
Rondeau had a season-high 30 saves and registered Yale's first shutout since Alec Richards blanked Cornell in the 2009 ECAC Championship Game.
The Dutchmen (8-3-3, 3-2-1) came in with the stingiest defense in the country, but that didn't mean they suffered at the other end. Union entered the game fourth in Division I with just under four goals per game while its power play was also top five (went 0-5 today). The only other team to hold them scoreless this year (0-0, tie) was Dartmouth last month.
Most of his support at the other end came from the line of senior- junior-sophomore line of Chris Cahill, Brian O'Neill and Andrew Miller, who combined for three goals and seven assists. Cahill had two goals and an assist, O'Neill notched a goal and two assists and Miller had four assists, all primary ones. Defenseman Nick Jaskowiak and forward Kevin Limbert added the other Bulldog goals as Yale outshot Union 40-30.
"The game was probably a lot closer than the score indicated," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "We were good defensively when they had their best moments offensively. It was a nice, collective win."
The Bulldogs spent four of the first nine minutes stifling a pair of man-advantages with aggressive fore-checking and getting bodies in front of shots. Just one Union shot went on target during the four minutes.
It wasn't the same when the home team went up a man. Yale jumped all over its first chance and O'Neill one-timed a fantastic Miller feed from the top of the right circle. Miller put the puck in O'Neill's wheelhouse and the junior forward blasted away from the left circle and sent it inside the far post at 13:07 for his seventh of the year. It was the game's only special teams goal.
The first goal could not have been scored without a clear desperation by Yale players to keep the puck inside the blueline. The Bulldogs dove all over the ice to put it back in offensive play.
The Blue had the advantage in shots (15-8), but the only grade-A scoring chance in the first was a Broc Little breakaway (thanks to a great Denny Kearney lead pass) that was stopped by sophomore goalie Keith Kinkaid (35 saves) and the blade of a defender's stick draped around Little's waist.
The Elis added another goal in a wild second period. O'Neill carried over the blueline and fed it to Miller, who slipped it over to Jaskowiak, who was moving into the upper slot. The junior blueliner, looking for his first goal of the year, held for a moment and then sent a wrister over Kinkaid's shoulder at 8:47.
"He [Miller] made a great pass. I looked up and didn't see anyone on me," said Jaskowiak. "I just picked a corner and let it go."
Union had a 17-13 shot advantage in the middle frame, but Rondeau was not budging, recording his best (17 saves) period ever. The senior made a few early saves, but his best work came under real stress late in the period. Miller, who also had four assists in the 2010 NCAA Northeast Regional final against Boston College, and O'Neill were called for simultaneous infractions at 17:21 and the Dutchmen had a great opportunity to cut the margin in half. Rondeau made two saves on point-blank blasts, his defenders blocked two shots and Union fired three other shots wide.
"The 5-on-3 could have changed the game. If they score, they are right back in it," said Rondeau. "Our team did a great job of getting in the shooting lanes. That kill gave us a lot of momentum."
"It [penalty kill] gave us life. Our bench was pretty excited for the three guys out there killing off the penalties," said Allain, who will join the U.S. National Junior Team in Buffalo on Dec. 16 to prepare for the World Championships. "If they score, it could have been a different game. They could have gotten two."
Yale kept the pressure on the Union net and it produced a third goal midway through the third. Kinkaid saved a Miller shot but the puck came free along the edge of the crease. Cahill was in the right place and easily flicked it past the Dutchmen netminder at 10:09.
The senior forward wasn't done hitting the net. Cahill swooped in from along the left boards on a rush and angled toward the inner circle before snapping off a nasty shot that went low on the glove side for his sixth tally.
Limbert (4th goal) put the finishing touches on the contest with a shot that barely squeezed through Kinkaid's pads and trickled over the goal line with a little more than a minute left.
After the game, Allain was asked by reporters his thoughts about Yale being voted the top ranked team in the country [considering last week's No. 1, Minnesota-Duluth, split games this weekend]. The Yale coach said he doesn't think or talk about it. He did, however, want to talk about what he likes most about his current squad.
"I love our 'compete' level, the understanding of the team concept and how they work for each other."
BULLDOG BITES: The new national rankings will come out Monday afternoon… Yale's No. 2 ranking in both polls is the best for an Eli hockey team… The Bulldogs host Hockey East Vermont Wednesday at 7 p.m. and look to avenge a 1-0 loss at Burlington last season… The only change in the lineup from Friday was Kenny Agostino in for Antoine Laganiere.
Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
image of Ryan Rondeau (Sam Rubin 95)