Miller Leads Blue to 6-1 Win
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – There was no rust on the Bulldog hockey machine after a bye in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. Andrew Miller had two goals and two assists, while his linemates Jesse Root and Kenny Agostino added a goal and two assists in No. 13 Yale's 6-1 win over St. Lawrence in the first game of the best-of-three, quarterfinal series at Ingalls Rink.
The Miller-Root-Agostino line, which totaled four goals and 10 points, helped the Bulldogs (17-10-3) win their fourth straight game by outshooting SLU 48-13 and not allowing the visitors a power play.
Senior goalie Jeff Malcolm made four saves in each period, while his teammates allowed a season-low 13 shots, and the Elis erased an early deficit with six straight goals.
During the week, numerous Eli players mentioned how important the first period would be for them after having a week off. They talked about St. Lawrence being in the playoff flow, and how they needed to come out strong. The Bulldogs did just what they wanted and put 12 of the game's first 13 shots on net. Despite the domination in puck possession, the Saints managed to get on the board first… on just their second shot of the game.
Tommy Thompson's wrist shot from the lower edge of the right circle made it 1-0 at 7:30, but the Blue answered with two while outshooting the visitors 17-5.
Agostino and Root got the puck out of the Yale end and up to center ice where Miller received it heading in with steam. The Yale captain whizzed into the right circle and unleashed a rising last that went inside far post at 10:40.
Antoine Laganiere, who had two points, gave Yale the lead by flicking home a loose puck around the crease at 17:03. He got it after Gus Young's shot bounced off the boards and straight out to the side of the cage.
"Sometimes when you come out and play that way but they get the first goal, it can change the momentum," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach. "What I'm most proud of was that it didn't change the momentum at all, and that's a testament to the character in that locker room. If you are going to be successful in our league, you have to handle adversity."
The Bulldogs continued to put the heat on Matt Weninger (28 saves) in the second and made it three in a row after a great back-check by Miller. The senior forward pulled the puck away from an SLU forward breaking out of his zone and found Root cruising in the high slot. Miller's pass was quickly one-timed off the SLU goalie's arm and into the back of the net at 13:22.
Yale's fourth straight tally was generated by Laganiere's work at both ends of the rink. The senior wing blocked a dump-in attempt along the boards and the puck bounced down into the SLU end. Laganiere, who led the team with 10 shots on goal, won the race to the puck, gathered and looked up from the boards to see Ryan Obuchowski crossing into the zone. Obuchowski took a few steps and fired low into the net at 18:58.
SLU, held to just four shots in the second, pulled Weninger for Kyle MacDonald to start the third. The freshman goalie was greeted by two Yale goals in just over three minutes before getting the hook. Agostino one-timed Miller's crossing feed to make it 5-1 and then Miller went through the defense, deked the rookie goalie and tucked the puck into an open side for a five-goal lead at 3:21.
The Blue kept skating and fore-checking, and David Grilk, SLU's third goalie of the night, came up with some impressive stops.
The game's only penalties– Saints captain Kyle Flanagan had three of them - occurred in the final frame, none of them resulted in a score.
"We haven't had the best first periods or first games [in the playoffs during his four years]," said Miller, who tied his career-high for goals and points in a game. "We had an opportunity to jump on them early with a quick start, but we got down 1-0. When everything is going right and you are outplaying them, you hope to be on top. But that's hockey. We just stuck to our system and made the plays. Sometimes you outplay teams and lose 1-0. We had a good playoff hockey speed and physicality, and we look for the same thing tomorrow."
The six goals tied Yale's season high and were the most since a 6-5 win over Colorado College in November... This was the second straight game Yale did not allow a power play attempt... This is the sixth straight year Yale has qualified for the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Four of the six have been at the Whale… Earlier this week, Keith Allain was named one of three finalists for the Tim Taylor Award as the ECAC's coach of the year. The award is named after the long-time Yale head coach… Tickets are available for Saturday night's game, the Ingalls Rink ticket window opens at 5:30… Andrew Miller now has 109 career assists and is four shy of the school record held by Bob Brooke '83.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
image of Root's goal by Don Clark