February 13, 2009

Richards Stops 34 Shots in 4-2 Win

Feb. 13, 2009

SCHENECTADY, NY - Alec Richards stopped 34 of 36 shots and four different teammates hit the net as the No. 10 Yale men's hockey team increased its unbeaten streak to eight games by defeating Union 4-2 at Messa Rink in ECAC Hockey action.

The Elis (18-5-1, 13-3-1 ECAC), who average 38 shots on net, were outshot 36-15 and went 0-for-3 with the man-advantage but still increased their win streak to seven games while jumping three points ahead of second place Princeton atop the conference standings.

Richards stopped 10 shots in the first and last frames and had 14 in the second, while stopping the Dutchmen (14-13-2, 7-9-1) on seven of eight power-play chances.

"It was a great win for us though we were not at our best," said Richards, who improved his record to 4-3 against the Dutchmen and helped his squad win for the first time at Messa Rink since the five-overtime playoff game in 2006. "We found a way to put pucks in the net."

Patrick Brosnihan, Denny Kearney, Mike Matczak and Brian O'Neill scored goals for the Blue, which put five shots on Union's Corey Milan, who made just 11 saves. Two of the goals were set up by Broc Little, who now leads the squad with 27 points.

"I'm pleased to get the win but not thrilled with the way we played," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, whose squad also clinched an outright Ivy League title when Cornell fell to Dartmouth. "Union played a great game but we were able to come out on top."

The Bulldogs had trouble breaking out of their own end in the first period and were very fortunate Richards was on his game early. Three or four turnovers in their own end quickly turned into grade-A chances for the Dutchmen, who put 10 shots on the senior goalie.

Yale, which put a season-low five shots on net in the opening frame, managed to get one of those past Milan. With four minutes left in the period, Patrick Brosnihan carried over the blueline on the right side with a defender on him. The senior winger reached the right circle and let fly a rising wrister that went glove side, inside the near post for his fourth goal of the season.

The Blue, outshot again (15-5) in the second, traded goals with the Dutchmen in a wild, penalty-filled frame. Broc Little helped the Elis take a 2-0 lead at 9:16 when he made some moves to hold the puck along the right boards and look for an open teammate moving toward the net. Defenseman Mike Matczak saw the opening and Little and took off for the slot. Little's perfect lead pass hit the blueliner in stride and Matczak one-timed it past Milan.

Union had three man-advantages in the second period and cashed in one to cut the margin in half at 12:52. John Simpson blazed over the blueline and around a defender in the left circle before cutting in on Richards. Simpson went to his backhand and slipped it under the Yale goalie for his fifth of the winter.

Yale, which had to kill off seven straight Union advantages, upped the lead to two again with its seventh shorthanded goal of the year. Kearney and Little worked well together all night finding scoring chances and finally came through after Little stole the puck behind the home team's net. He quickly sent it out to Kearney, who snapped a wrister past Milan at 6:09.

It wasn't over yet. Jason Walters blasted a low slap shot from the left circle inside the far post at 12:41 to cut the margin to 3-2 and put the visitors in full clearing mode. Richards and his defense came up big on a few chances down the stretch before Mark Arcobello helped put it away.

The Yale junior forward intercepted a clearing attempt in the Union end and sent the puck toward the net.

"I just grabbed the puck in the air with my glove and dropped it down. I put a shot on that O'Neill re-directed for the goal," said Arcobello.

O'Neill's ninth goal of the year at 18:26 was all the Elis needed.

The 36 shots allowed were the second most by the Bulldogs this season. Only Dartmouth (37) had more on Feb. 7 at Ingalls. Richards needed a great effort to earn his 13th win this winter.

"It seemed like we were on the kill a lot. I didn't feel overworked, I felt very confident," said Richards.

The Bulldogs complete the Capitol District swing with a 7 p.m. game at Rensselaer (4-3 winners over Brown on Friday) Saturday.

Notes: The Elis skated without two key offensive juniors, especially on the powerplay. Defenseman Tom Dignard, who was injured against Quinnipiac, and forward Sean Backman (Dartmouth), were not available tonight... The Yale men's and women's hockey teams will host their annual "Skate with the Players" event this Sunday at Ingalls Rink. The free event offers elementary and middle-school age Yale fans the chance to skate with Bulldog hockey players. "Skate with the Players" runs from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Fans must bring their own equipment... The Yale men do not have a game on Saturday, Feb. 28. The Elis host Colgate on Sunday, March 1, at 4 p.m. in a game that airs live on ESPNU.

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

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