Peel, O'Neill Star in Yale Win
Bulldogs Beat Big Green 5-3
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Kevin Peel sat out the last three games with an injury, so the senior defenseman was the least likely Bulldog to have a multiple-point night with his team fighting for home ice in the men's ECAC Hockey Playoffs before a sellout crowd at Ingalls Rink. He notched a goal and had a big assist as Yale beat Dartmouth 5-3 to take sole possession of eighth place on the second-to-last weekend of the regular season.
Peel was on the ice for just four shifts. Senior forward Brian O'Neill, who had as much ice time as anyone in the game, notched a goal and two assists to help Yale (11-13-2, 8-10-1 ECAC) snap a two-game skid with three games remaining before the post season.
The Bulldogs, who swept the Big Green this year, converted three of seven advantages while getting goals from five players. However, the Yale penalty kill may have been more important tonight, killing off all seven Dartmouth opportunities with help from Nick Maricic's 27 saves.
"Our penalty kill in the second period was huge (3 kills). If we don't' have those kills, it doesn't give our power play the chance to bail us out," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach.
Dartmouth (9-13-4, 6-10-3) outshot Yale 30-28 and got 23 saves from James Mello.
Yale had the best chance to score early, including a two-man advantage for 74 seconds. Mello came up with three saves and the Big Green killers did a great job clearing the puck, but the Bulldogs continued to put on the pressure.
O'Neill hit pipe with 3:40 left, which led to the game's first goal. On the ensuing shift, Andrew Miller (2 assists) fed Anthony Day and the freshman winger sent a shot off a defender that bounced over to their linemate. Kenny Agostinto, looking for his 11th of the year, smacked it back into the net with 3:13 left.
The Big Green, who had a 12-11 edge in shots in the first, evened things 6:51 into the second on a short-ranged one-timer by Brandon McNally, who converted the backhanded crossing feed from Paul Lee. Maricic had no chance as the pass came across from the just below the left circle to the same spot on the right.
The Elis grabbed the lead back less than a minute later on O'Neill's rising snap shot from the inside edge of the left circle. The Yale captain took Colin Dueck's quick backhanded pass from behind the net and sent it over Mello's shoulder at 7:45 of the second to make it 2-1 on his 18th of the season.
"Colin (Dueck) got it out to me, and I had all day to do something with it. It's pretty tough for a goalie to stop a shot when you have that much time. I think it actually rolled a bit before I shot it," said O'Neill.
A great lead pass off the boards that turned into a 3-on-2 rush enabled the visitors to tie it again in the second. Lee hit Brandon McNally and then he found defenseman Connor Goggin, who jumped on the rush. The senior zipped across the slot, waited for a commitment and then flicked it over the Yale goalie at 16:15.
The home team used a goalie interference penalty on Dartmouth to get the game's first power-play tally and take its third lead. Jesse Root was the recipient of the perfect pass to the right circle from O'Neill. Root (4th goal) re-directed the feed by winding up and sending the puck top shelf in the third.
Dartmouth continued to take penalties and the Elis jumped on another chance to take a two-goal lead. Chad Ziegler (7th) re-directed Peel's shot from the point at 4:27.
Doug Jones' long wrister from the high slot beat Maricic on the glove side with 9:37 left to make it 4-3 and put the crowd in a tizzy.
Maricic followed with a great save on McNally with 7:13 left on a mini-breakaway, and Yale got another break when Agostino was taken down to put Dartmouth on the kill with under two minutes left. With Mello out for an extra skater, Root tapped the puck to Peel who went the distance for the empty-netter.
BULLDOG BITES: Andrew Miller tied Denny Kearney for 4th on Yale's career assist list with 86… Brian O'Neill's goal was the 66th of his career… This is Yale Hockey's Alumni Weekend, and the annual alumni game is Saturday at 9 a.m… The Bulldogs host Harvard on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Whale. The game is sold out.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Brian O'Neill image by Nicholas Carlino