NEW HAVEN, Conn. — After being asked seemingly ad nauseam whether they could score without Chris Higgins, the Yale Bulldogs answered the question in a convincing manner with an 8-3 victory in an exhibition contest versus Guelph at Ingalls Rink.
It did take the Bulldogs 22:35 to crack the scoreboard and despite outshooting Guelph 25-1 in the first period, Yale trailed 1-0 at first intermission. The Bulldogs netted three goals in a 3:04 span early in the second period to open up a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.
“I thought coming into the game that we should have been the fresher and faster team, because Guelph had played two games in the past two nights,” said Yale head coach Tim Taylor.
With much of the pre-season focus on the players the Bulldogs lost to graduation or, in Higgins’ case, the NHL, it was the Eli newcomers who turned the heads of the 1,248 fans in attendance. Taylor dressed all of his freshmen in hopes of seeing what each would bring to the ice in a game atmosphere. What he saw was quite impressive, with newcomer Brad Mills scoring the first Yale goal of the game, assisted by fellow freshman Robert Burns and sophomore Jeff Hristovski. Burns scored a goal of his own with one second left in the period, and rookie Bill LeClerc scored in the third. The Bulldog freshman class totaled 10 points on the night, with three goals and seven assists.
“I have been very pleased with what the freshmen have done so far,” Taylor said. “I think they’re very smart hockey players, and they looked very comfortable out there.”
Yale’s more familiar names also came through, with Jeff Hristovski and Ryan Steeves each netting two pucks and junior Mike Klema also adding a score.
Josh Gartner started the game in net for the Bulldogs and faced only one shot in the first period, a shorthanded goal from Dylan Furlong 11:18 into the contest. Taylor had planned to play Gartner for only one period and have Peter Cohen mind the net for the second stanza, but Cohen was cut on the left side of the head by a puck that flew into the bench. His injury is believed to be minor. Taylor decided to play Gartner for the second period as well, and he made three saves while allowing a score to Guelph’s Scott Rozendal.
Freshman Matt Modelski allowed a Jesse Pyatt goal just 22 seconds into the third, but was impressive in his debut, making eight saves. Despite being an exhibition, the game was very physical and featured 22 penalties. Guelph was unsuccessful on three attempts on the man advantage, while Yale was three for six.
This was Yale’s only tune-up before traveling to North Dakota this Friday and Saturday for a two-game set.