NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale Bulldogs used four goals from four different defenders to defeat Brown 5-3, earning their fourth consecutive victory and a spot in the ECAC playoffs before a sellout crowd of 3,486 at Ingalls Rink.
Senior blueliner Rob Mutter’s first career goal, in his final home game, was the game-winner, coming 11:37 into the third period on a slapshot from the right circle. Chris Higgins added an empty-netter with 22 seconds left to ice the game for Yale.
“To get back-to-back sweeps to end the season is a testament to the character and resiliency of this team,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “We are a damn good 10th-place hockey team.”
Perhaps it is fitting that Mutter — one of the hardest workers on the Yale team — would score the goal that ultimately gave the squad a playoff berth.
“It just feels unbelievable,” Mutter said. “These last four wins have just been a total team effort, and I am just very proud of the team right now. The guys would kid me ‘When are you going to score?” and I always told them I was waiting for a big moment … I caught a break tonight. It feels so good.”
The first period saw the Bulldogs and the Bears combine for just 11 shots and one goal. That came just three seconds into a Yale man advantage when, just off a faceoff in the right circle, a Jeff Dwyer snapshot found the back of the net at the 13:57 mark.
Some impressive saves by both Brown goaltender Yann Danis and Eli senior netminder Dan Lombard held the score at 1-0 Yale as the teams headed to the locker room for first intermission.
Yale’s second goal also came by virtue of the power play. Dwyer moved the puck across the top of the circles to Mike Grobe, who fired a low wrist shot that beat Danis glove side at the 7:56 mark for his first career goal and a 2-0 Yale lead.
The Bulldogs’ next man advantage proved to be anything but beneficial, when the Bears picked up a shorthanded goal when Pascal Denis netted the puck at 16:41 of the second to pull Brown to within one, 2-1.
That score stood until the early stages of the final stanza. Yale went up 3-1 just over four minutes into the third when Nick Deschenes — who was not even expected to play this weekend after a practice incident five weeks ago that required numerous stitches to his leg — hustled after the puck in the Brown end and then left it at the top of the left circle for Stacey Bauman, who fired one low past Danis for his first goal of the season.
The Bears bit back in the next three minutes, adding two goals to their tally and tying the score. Tye Korbl banged home a rebound outside the crease at the 5:45 mark, after Yale failed to control a loose puck. Then Vince Macri took a back pass from Mike Meech near the top of the right circle and snapped a low wrist shot past Lombard at 7:22 to finish the two-goal comeback.
For the Bulldogs, who have all too often this year seen a lead slip away late, it was important to regain composure for the final 12:38 of the game.
“We were just trying to find energy for the last 10 minutes,” said team captain Luke Earl.
Lombard had to cast aside his frustration after allowing the two goals and stay focused on the task at hand.
“I was disappointed that I didn’t come up with big saves there, but it was a new game at that point,” Lombard said. “My only thought was to keep us in the game.”
He did just that, finishing with 17 saves on the evening.
Four minutes and 22 seconds after Macri scored, Mutter lit the lamp to give Yale the lead for good.
Yale, the number-10 seed in the ECAC playoffs, travels to top-ranked Cornell this weekend. The squads tied early in the season in New Haven and the Big Red bested the Bulldogs by one goal in Ithaca in February. Brown ends up as the eighth seed, and travels to Harvard for the playoffs. The Bears and Crimson split their season series.