DURHAM, N.H. — Trailing 3-2 entering the third period, Yale scored twice in the first seven minutes and shut New Hampshire down the rest of the way to post a 4-3 upset at a sold out Whittemore Center on Friday.
The loss was only New Hampshire’s second at home the last three seasons, and the second loss to Yale the last two years, including a 5-1 loss at Ingalls Rink last November.
With New Hampshire’s Jim Abbott in the penalty box starting the third period, Yale capitalized on the power play when Ben Stafford surprised goalie Ty Conklin with a tough-angle shot not far from the goal line that tied the game at 3 just 47 seconds in. Jeff Hamilton assisted on the goal.
Yale (1-0-0) then took the lead for good at 6:50 when Luke Earl beat Conklin for the Bulldogs’ second shorthanded goal of the night. Earl picked up the puck, and skated into the zone alongside Hamilton. The lone defender slid over to Hamilton, leaving Earle alone. Earle skated in, deked right, and slid the shot past a fallen Conklin.
“I think [defenseman] Jeff Dwyer got it behind our net,” said Earle. “He sent it around, and I saw a New Hampshire defenseman pinching, so I just figured if I chipped it by him, I’d have a two-on-one.
“Once I got by that first defenseman, I think the other defenseman was waiting for Hamilton, thinking he was more of a sniper than myself, so I just kept on going. I just made a quick more to the right, got Conklin to slide, and get off his feet and slid it in short side. He almost got [the puck]. I barely got it in.”
New Hampshire (5-1-1) controlled the play the last six minutes of the game, sparked by a power play at 13:53. The Wildcats managed plenty of shots, but only a few made it through to goalie Dan Lombard, who was true to the task when the puck did get through.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed we lost the game,” said New Hampshire coach Dick Umile. “Give credit to Yale for the way they played. Obviously the way they played, they stayed in there, and gave themselves an opportunity to win.
“I’m just disappointed in the fact that we didn’t get the job done tonight, especially in the first 10 minutes of the third period. They came out, they had a chance to win the game, and they were excited, and they were hungry.”
“It was a guts and heart game for us,” said Yale coach Tim Taylor. “As a player and a coach, I’ve always tried to find a positive in playing in hostile environments. We have the Clarkson/St. Lawrence road trip, which is arguably the toughest in our league. We always look forward to that challenge.
“I think opening on the road at New Hampshire, they’re a tremendous team, and I think they played really well, it was the heart and soul of these kids that won that game.”
Said Earl, “I think last year, we played Michigan the first game, we lost 3-2, and we go back to school like we just won the Stanley Cup, and we lost the game.
“We didn’t want to be satisfied being close. We want to pull some of these games out, since we only get a couple of times to play the top teams in the nation. Especially in this place, UNH is a great home team. I thought it was a great opportunity to pull out a win if we could. We had to bear down defensively and take advantage of our chances, and we did that.”
“They’re a great skating team,” said New Hampshire captain Mark White. “You’d think we had the mental edge with revenge on our mind, and playing here. Maybe they were more pumped up than us. It wasn’t our best game of the year, or our poorest game. We didn’t match what they had tonight. It’s a long season, 36 games . We met our match tonight, and I’m sure the boys will be ready to go tomorrow night.”