February 6, 2009

Matczak, Limbert Lift Blue Over Crimson

Feb. 6, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Shots on goal don't always tell the true story of a hockey game, unless one squad has 35 more. Mike Matczak had two goals and Kevin Limbert had a goal and three assists as the No. 14 Yale men's hockey team outshot Harvard 50-15 en route to a 5-1 ECAC win before an Ingalls Rink sellout crowd.

The Bulldogs (16-5-1, 11-3-1) increased their unbeaten streak to six (5-0-1) games by having their largest shot margin this year, scoring a season-high four power-play goals and by staying out of the penalty box. Yale went 4-for-6 with the advantage and blanked Harvard (5-13-4, 5-7-4) on all three of its chances.

Denny Kearney and Broc Little had the other goals, while the Bulldog defensive effort allowed its fewest shots on goal of 2008-09. Alec Richards made only 14 saves to earn the win, but at least half of them were quality stops.

Harvard's Matt Hoyle stopped 45 shots, including 17 in the final frame but couldn't hold off a vicious Yale forecheck that earned the Blue a season sweep over the Crimson for the second time in three years. "It didn't feel safe until we got the fourth goal. They are a dangerous team," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey.

The Bulldogs were buzzing the Harvard end in the first period while outshooting the visitors 17-2. It seemed for the entire period Yale's forechecking produced chances to cycle the puck which resulted in rubber flying at Hoyle.

Matczak, who scored his first two goals of the year and couldn't recall the last time he had two in a contest, notched his first goal of the year on the power play as the Elis grabbed the early lead. The sophomore defenseman took a crossing feed above the left circle and snapped off a low wrister that went inside the far post at 8:35.

The Crimson had two shots on net in the opening frame and one went in, 72 seconds after the Matczak tally. An Eli defenseman tried to clear the puck around the boards and it hit a referee's skate and bounced to Michael Biega, who quickly sent it out to Matt McCollem in the lower left slot. McCollem (4th goal) one-timed a shot inside the left post to tie the score at 1-1 at 9:47.

Blueliner Ken Trentowski didn't score Yale's second goal but he was directly responsible for it. The second-year Eli stole a Crimson pass on their blueline and caused a Harvard player to take a penalty. Almost a minute and a half later, the Blue had a 2-1 lead. Kearney, getting the puck after a nifty Broc Little spin move, sent a pretty crossing pass in the low slot that was one-timed into an open side of the net by Limbert (5th) at 13:51. "It was a lot of fun tonight. We were skating very well,"said Limbert, who enjoyed a collegiate season-high of four points. "We worked on the powerplay a lot this week, and the back-door play worked well for us tonight."

Harvard had numerous quality chances to even things at two, but Richards came up with big saves. The momentum from his nine saves led to a two-goal advantage at 17:56. Kearney did a lot of the work along the boards in the Harvard end before leaving the puck for Limbert, who cycled from the corner and carried to the mid slot with two defenders. None of the Crimson skaters were unable to get the puck away from the Bulldog rookie, who released a lot shot that was re-directed by Kearney and went past Hoyle.

While Richards was making great saves, including an athletic kick save on McCollem seven minutes into the third, the Elis continued to put the heat on Hoyle.

The Bulldogs jumped all over two more man-advantages to put the game away. First Matczak hit the net on almost the exact shot and location he scored from in the first period. This one made it 4-1 with 9:32 left.

Little banged home a rebound for Yale's fourth power-play goal of the night with 1:42 left and the bustling crowd raised its already thundering tone a few decibels.

The Elis were playing for the first time this year without standout junior defenseman Tom Dignard, who suffered a season-ending injury against Quinnipiac on Jan. 31. Everyone on the Yale side was thinking of Dignard. "You can't replace Digs [Dignard], but I think they are playing for him," said Allain. "He gets a great deal of respect from the guys in our locker room. Everyone has to add a little to their games to make up for him."

The Bulldogs are back at Ingalls Saturday night for a 7:00 game with Dartmouth, 5-2 winners at Brown Friday night.

Recap filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director

Video by David Dikranian