CANTON, N.Y. — Yale (10-10, 8-5 ECAC) capitalized on some early scoring chances and staved off a furious three-goal third-period Saint rally to defeat St. Lawrence (8-15-4, 4-8-1 ECAC), 5-4, at Appleton Arena.
Yale got goals from five different skaters and Josh Gartner made 39 saves to lead his squad to its fifth consecutive victory. The Bulldogs have won their last six conference tilts.
The Yale penalty kill unit, which has been steadily improving recently, received its biggest test of the season in the third period against the Saints. St. Lawrence had three stretches of two-man advantages, including the final 43 seconds during which the Saints pulled netminder Kevin Ackley for an extra skater. While St. Lawrence’s final goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage, Yale killed six of the Saints’ seven power plays on the evening.
“Our penalty kill was terrific all night,” Yale coach Tim Taylor said. “Joe Callahan (who was on the ice for an entire two minute stretch during the Saints’ first two man advantage and netted a goal in the second period) was the best player on the ice tonight. That might have been his best game yet in a Yale uniform.”
Christian Jensen’s beautiful power play goal at 16:22 of the third period looked at the time like icing on the cake, as Yale held a four-goal lead. However, Jensen’s wrist shot from the right faceoff circle proved to be the ultimate game-winner as St. Lawrence charged back with three third-period goals.
Yale’s power play unit also played a key role in the victory, as Yale converted on three of its six chances. The Bulldogs got power play goals from Jeff Hristovski, Brad Mills and Jensen.
“This was a huge, huge two points on the road, because we know how tight the league race will be,” Taylor said. “Character wise, this game was as valuable as any we’ll play all year.”
Gartner earned his fifth consecutive victory in net, stopping all but four St. Lawrence shots.
“Josh was there each time we needed him,” Taylor said. “I thought he played another very strong game for us tonight.”
Yale played one of its most inspired games of the year, dominating the neutral zone for most of the game. Even in the third period, when the Saints were mounting their comeback, the Bulldogs continued their scrappy play, continuing a trend of increased physicality in recent weeks.
“Our level of battle in the first and second periods was unbelievable,” Taylor said. “And in the third period, I don’t think we let up that much, and we especially did not lose our cool down the stretch.”
The Bulldogs, who were outshot for the sixteenth time this year, 43-22, got on the board first with a power-play goal from Hristovski on an assist from fellow sophomore Joe Zappala 7:13 into the game. St. Lawrence answered back at 18:04 when defenseman Matt Macdonald netted a blast from the right point.
Yale scored all three goals in the second period, including junior C.J. Nibbe’s first of the season at 12:41. Blueliner Joe Callahan — who entered the game tied for ninth in the conference in defenseman scoring — notched his sixth goal of the year at 14:58. Rookie Mills recorded his third goal of the year and second in as many games on a power play at 19:27 to give the visitors a three-goal advantage at second intermission.
Jensen tallied his sixth of the year on a power play just 3:38 into the third to give Yale what looked to be a commanding four-goal advantage. But the Saints’ T.J. Trevelyan scored two goals and added an assist in the game’s final 14:10 to bring his team back to within one. The St. Lawrence comeback began at 5:50 when Mike Madill lit the lamp, and then Trevelyan scored twice, at 11:06 and 13:00 to close the gap to one.
Yale, who defeated St. Lawrence, 4-3, in overtime at Ingalls Rink earlier this month, sweeps the season series with the Saints for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign, when the Bulldogs won the ECAC regular season crown.