NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale might want to think about playing some more games at the New Haven Coliseum. Playing at the cross-town arena for the first time in 17 years, the Bulldogs pounded Notre Dame 8-2 before 5,110 fans.
Yale (10-8) picked up its fourth straight win while the Irish (5-19-5) suffered their second blowout loss of the week. The teams will wrap up their two-game set Sunday afternoon at Ingalls Rink.
Yale coach Tim Taylor also reached a milestone with his 278th victory, tying Murray Murdoch for the most wins in school history. But Taylor, who does not dwell on his own records, was more concerned with trying to beat Notre Dame again on Sunday.
“I’m not even aware of it, quite frankly,” Taylor said. “I’m just worried about beating Notre Dame.”
With his top line — Jeff Hamilton, Ben Stafford and Nick Deschenes — putting forth another outstanding effort, he didn’t have to worry about Notre Dame for long on Saturday. The trio combined for 12 points, leading a surging Yale offense that has blitzed its opponents 23-5 during the team’s four-game win streak.
“It was nice playing in front of a bigger crowd today, and we came out on fire,” Hamilton said. “All four lines were firing on all cylinders.”
Yale’s Jason Noe, Adam Sauve and Jeff Dwyer also chipped in with multi-point efforts.
Notre Dame goaltender Tony Zasowski played well despite Yale’s eight goals, racking up 35 saves. Sixteen of those stops came in the first 20 minutes, keeping the Irish — who trailed 3-1 at the end of the period — in striking distance. Ron Globke and David Inman scored Notre Dame’s goals while Yale goaltender Dan Lombard made 23 saves to earn the victory.
As is usually the case when the Elis put up big numbers, Hamilton was the catalyst with two goals and three assists. After notching nine points in his last two games, he is now eight points away from becoming Yale’s all-time career scoring leader.
“Hamilton had one of his most dynamic games today, though he wasn’t alone,” Taylor said. “That whole line is such a solid line for us, and I really trust them defensively now.”
The Bulldogs started quickly, tallying two goals and 13 shots in the first 8:47 before Notre Dame even had a shot on Lombard.
“It’s a relentless pressure we’ve got going now,” Taylor said. “If we can sustain our pressure, then eventually they crack.”
Hamilton got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard first, burying a wrister from 5 feet out over Zasowski’s right shoulder at the 3:27 mark of the first period.
The relentlessness continued just over four minutes later, when defenseman Bryan Freeman led a breakout from the Yale zone. He fired a pass off the right wing boards to Noe, who sped into the Irish zone before finding Peter Toomey in front. Toomey one-timed the puck past Zasowski at the 7:52 mark for Yale’s 2-0 lead.
Notre Dame finally managed a shot on goal within the next minute, but 57 seconds later, the Elis were at it again. Hamilton fed Stafford at the top of the right circle with a nice touch pass. Finding space to skate, Stafford faked a slapper — drawing Zasowski out of the crease — before skating deeper into the zone and whipping a high wrist shot into the top of the goal at the 9:44 mark.
The Irish power play struck back at the 14:59 mark, just six seconds into its first man advantage. Connor Dunlop flipped the puck from the right point into a mass of players in front of the Yale net. Globke got his stick on it to redirect the shot past Lombard to cut the Yale lead to 3-1.
The Bulldogs outshot the Irish 19-6 in the first period and kept the pressure up in the second, scoring three straight goals. Hamilton knocked a rebound in from the left circle at the 7:40 mark for his second of the game.
On the power play, Yale’s top line put on a passing clinic before Dwyer’s shot from between the points beat Zasowski for at 12:11 to increase the lead to 5-1.
Just over two minutes later, Sauve kept the puck in the offensive zone along the right boards, then found a streaking Lee Jelenic through the slot. Zasowski stopped Jelenic’s initial shot, but Denis Nam was there to pop in the rebound for his first career goal.
Inman stopped the Yale offensive swell momentarily, pounding a rebound off a Matt Van Arkel shot past Lombard before second intermission.
Third-period goals from Luke Earl and Stafford ensured Yale’s most prolific offensive outing since an 11-0 shellacking of Cornell at Ingalls Rink on Feb. 6, 1998. Notre Dame, which suffered a 9-0 loss at the hands of Michigan on Tuesday, has given up the team’s most goals in consecutive games (17) since the 1993 CCHA playoffs. On March 12-13, Michigan outscored the Irish 21-3.
The last time the Bulldogs hosted a hockey game at the New Haven Coliseum was Feb. 18, 1984, when they skated to a 1-1 tie with Harvard. That game capped a five-year run in which the Elis hit the Coliseum ice 11 times.
“It felt great on the bench today,” Taylor said. “There was a nice crowd, a nice atmosphere. It think the players liked the feel. It’s great as long as we cane make this place feel like home.”
The Bulldogs will be back in their normal surroundings Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern, when they will try to earn the weekend sweep.
“They’ll be a completely different team tomorrow,” Hamilton said. “They were a tired team today.”