NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Sunday, speed won out over size as the big, powerful St. Francis Xavier X-Men were defeated by the swift, crafty Yale Bulldogs, 9-3, at Ingalls Rink in an exhibition match.
“We got what we needed to out of this game,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “I thought that after we got rid of the first game jitters, we moved the puck very well.”
Yale’s first score was set up when X-Men forward Carl MacKinnon was penalized for holding the stick at 8:12 in the first period. That gave Yale its second man advantage of the afternoon. Twenty seven seconds later, Jason Noe took a feed from Bryan Freeman and Spencer Rodgers and put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs’ final goal of the game also came via the power play, and despite not scoring during the five-on-four situations in between those two, Taylor was pleased with the improvement he saw.
“The puck movement on the power play got better and better as the game progressed,” Taylor said.
Yale notched three goals in the final 1:30 of the first period, the first of which came from Vin Hellemeyer off an assist from Berry at 18:30. Then, freshman Chris Higgins introduced himself to both the home crowd and St. Francis goaltender David Haun.
With 20 seconds remaining in the period, Higgins — who was playing on the top line — netted one from just outside the circle, giving Yale a 3-0 advantage. The ensuing faceoff was controlled by Yale, and Higgins fired one past a shell-shocked Haun for his second goal in 10 seconds.
“He is a great playmaker,” team captain Luke Earl said. “He reminds me of [former Yale star] Jeff Hamilton — he’s a very crafty player.”
The Bulldogs saw goals from seven different players — Higgins (2), Noe (2), Hellemeyer, Nate Murphy, Joe Callahan, Evan Wax and Denis Nam — showcasing the balanced attack Taylor hopes to make this team’s trademark.
“We have four lines that can spend time in the offensive zone and not so much time in the defensive zone,” Taylor said. “This is a very balanced team with good team speed.”
It was, after all, the speed that separated the Bulldogs from the X-Men, as time and time again a St. Francis player would seem to have a clear shot at the puck only to be chased down by one of the Elis. And despite knowing that most of their ECAC opponents are built around speed, Taylor is optimistic for the season.
“If everybody continues to improve, we will be able to skate with anybody,” Taylor said.
The Bulldogs have one exhibition game remaining, Nov. 3 vs. the USA Under-18 National team.