NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale captain Denis Nam could not even watch his game-winning goal sail into the back of the net. But every other set of eyes at a sold-out Ingalls Rink saw the Bulldogs take their first lead of the series.
With 6:22 left in the third period, Yale went ahead 2-1 and held on to tie the ECAC quarterfinal, best-of-three, series at one game each.
“Jeff [Hristovski] took a shot and it bounced in the air and I just swung at it,” Nam said. “I have no idea how it bounced into the net, I just closed my eyes and it went in.”
Yale out-shot Brown, 36-25 for the game and 17-5 in the third period. Josh Gartner made 24 saves to earn the victory, while Brown goalie Yann Danis stopped 34 of the Elis’ shots.
“That was a great hockey game,” said Yale coach Tim Taylor. “We had to rectify our positioning defensively after the first, and we did, and I thought we were pretty tight defensively in the second and third periods.”
For the second consecutive night, the visiting Bears jumped on top early. Junior Pascal Denis fed Shane Mudryk beautifully into the left slot. Mudryk sent a wrister that banged off the post and past Gartner at 6:18. The first period ended with Brown in front, 1-0, after out-shooting the Bulldogs 11-8.
Yale drew even midway through the second, taking advantage of consecutive Brown penalties which resulted in 1:13 of a two-man advantage and 2:11 of overall power play time.
Brown killed the five-on-three, but Yale scored on the power play at 9:11 when Ryan Steeves sent a crossing pass that caromed off a defender’s skate past Danis for his 15th tally of the season, tying the score at 1-1.
Yale had the advantage in shots on net, 11-9, in the period, and Gartner stopped several Brown rushes before and after the Steeves goal.
“It appeared that Brown had the momentum until then,” said Gartner. “But when Steeves got that goal from the bad angle, it seemed to lift us. We’ve gotten better all year at coming from behind, and I just tried to keep the team in it. I knew we’d get one eventually.”
In this game, “eventually” came 13:38 into the final period when Hristovski corralled the puck and skated into the Brown zone and fired a wrist shot that was swatted down by Danis. Nam swung at the puck, closed his eyes, and the puck found the back of the net, passing Danis low on the glove side.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Bulldogs.
The decisive game three will be Sunday at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.