Saints Take Game One of Series
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs have to win the next game to keep their ECAC Tournament Title hopes alive. Greg Carey's second goal of the game 16:28 into overtime gave St. Lawrence a 4-3 victory over No. 3 Yale in game one of the conference quarterfinal series. The two teams square off again Saturday at 7 p.m.
Yale (23-6-1) outshot St. Lawrence 34-29 and scored three times on five power-play chances. Jimmy Martin scored twice and Denny Kearney also hit the net as Yale came from behind with three straight tallies and enjoyed a two-goal lead for most of the second period.
The Saints (13-20-5) chipped away enough at the lead to have their own string of three straight goals while riding a 31-save performance by Matt Weninger. The freshman goalie made 11 of those saves in the overtime and gave Yale its first home loss of the year.
Ryan Rondeau stopped 25 shots for the Elis, including five in the extra session.
"I don't feel like we were the worse team out there tonight. We created some good chances," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "We have to have real short memories and get ready for tomorrow night."
The Blue looked a little like a team that hadn't played in a few weeks very early on for about a minute, and it really cost them. A bad bounce caught Rondeau by surprise just 53 seconds in to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Pat Raley, looking for his first collegiate goal, was just dumping it in when his spinning toss bounced five-hole. Aaron Bogosian stole the puck in his end to start the Saints in the other direction.
Yale, which didn't freak out over the bad bounce, jumped all over its first advantage of the night to even things. Thirty-seven ticks into the special teams endeavor, Broc Little made a great move to gather the puck, spin and put a tough shot on net. Weninger kicked it aside, but Kearney was in the right spot, between the crease and right circle, to bang it into the open right side at 3:10 for his 14th of the season.
The go-ahead tally for the Bulldogs came on a beautiful, tic-tac-toe play on their second power play. Little sent a pass from the point on the left low to Kearney, who re-directed across to Martin, cruising in from the right side. The one-time re-direction was so perfect, the Yale captain may have enjoyed the easiest tally of his career.
The Elis made it 3-for-3 on the power play 3:58 into the middle frame to go up 3-1. Little was parked in the corner with the puck looking over the options. He decided to thread the needle, seeing his captain ready to fire in the slot. Little put the puck within reach of three different SLU sticks that never touched it. The puck settled on his teammate's stick. Martin's rising wrister sailed over Weninger's right shoulder and gave the senior his first collegiate multiple-goal game.
The rest of the second was highlighted by Yale's near misses and Rondeau's great saves at the other end. The Yale goalie snatched a Bogosian shot out of the air from close range on a mini-breakaway midway through and then came up with another quality glove save on a penalty-kill that almost turned into another Yale goal. Brian O'Neill had a near breakaway, while Little went the distance before having his shot stopped by the Saints' netminder.
Weninger, who had eight saves in the second, made a few nifty pad stops to keep SLU within reach. Those would prove to be significant as his squad charged back.
Bogosian came close a couple of times before bringing his team to within one goal 6:27 into the third period. The senior winger took a feed along the blueline and skated in and fired a shot that was blocked by the Yale defense. He smacked the rebound back toward the net and it went five-hole on Rondeau for his 14h of the year.
The Saints evened the score at 3-3 with a man-advantage and just 6:13 left in regulation. Carey, a freshman and last week's ECAC Rookie of the Week, saved the puck at the Yale blueline, fanned on his initial shot and got it back after a teammate tried to haul it in. Carey (22nd goal) ended up with the puck on his stick at the top of the left circle and launched a snap shot over Rondeau's shoulder.
Yale had its chance to take the contest in the extra session. Andrew Miller stole the puck at center ice and went in a step ahead of a defender, who took a penalty before the sophomore got off a shot that hit the cross bar. He and his mates got two shots on Weninger during the power play, but the penalty kill won out and it turned into the momentum SLU needed to notch the upset.
The winning rush for the Saints looked innocuous enough coming over the Yale blueline until the defense fell to one side and left a winger uncovered.
Kyle Flanagan had the puck on the right side and both defensemen went to his side, leaving Carey open to receive the puck. The rookie forward took the pass on his forehand and took a few strides toward the left post before slipping it past Rondeau.
"It was a 2-on-2 that turned into a 2-on-1. Our defense over-reacted to the puck carrier and left a guy wide open in front of the net," said Allain, who felt like the game was actually lost at a different point. "The game was lost in the second period when we had a number of opportunities to make the lead bigger and couldn't."
The Yale goalie explained what he saw. "They made a nice pass and he [Carey] tucked it inside the post. It went above my glove," said Rondeau. "It was a good play by him."
"I don't think we played a bad game," said Martin, whose team is hoping to have a Sunday finale at Ingalls. "St. Lawrence is a good team that skates well and buried its chances. We have to learn from it and focus on tomorrow night."
BULLDOG BITES: The Elis didn't have an OT game until the 28th contest this year. They have had two in the last three outings… Yale's last OT playoff games came on consecutive nights at home in a pair of wins against RPI in 2008… With Yale students on spring break, tonight's game was not a sellout, though the Whale seemed close to capacity. That ended the sellout streak at 12 games… This was the 13th ECAC Playoff meeting between Yale and SLU and the eighth time the schools played in a quarterfinal game... Yale was the only Division I team undefeated at home going into the game.
report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director