NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Last season, Jared Ross was the top offensive threat in the NCAA, leading all Division I players in points per game with 1.61. This season, he is already back on a similar track, having earned six points in his first three games.
Four of those points came Friday, as Ross scored a goal and assisted in three others as the Alabama-Huntsville surprised the Yale Bulldogs 5-2 at Ingalls Rink.
“They’re your prototypical overachieving hard-hat team,” said Yale head coach Tim Taylor. “That’s what we need to become.”
The Chargers certainly fit that description Friday, and no one more so than Ross. The senior, who is the son of UAH head coach Doug Ross, is small in stature but large in impact.
After scoring the game’s opening goal on a skilled redirection high over Yale goalie Josh Gartner’s right shoulder, Ross added a decisive faceoff win that led to UAH’s second goal.
“He’s a leader out there on the ice,” said the elder Ross. “When he gets on the ice everyone expects something to happen. He’s become our franchise player, so to speak.”
After picking up two points in the first period, Ross had a hand in the Chargers’ two power-play goals in the second period that deflated the Bulldogs and took advantage of their numerous penalties.
“In the second period we turned around and started to get ahead with some of those power-play goals,” Jared Ross said. “the third period it was very important to keep out of the penalty box, and we did that.”
The same could not be said for the Bulldogs, who picked up 46 penalty minutes over the course of the game, including two five-minute penalties and ensuing game misconducts for checking from behind.
“We were killing penalties almost the entire second period,” Taylor said. “That put us back on our heels and kept us there.”
The game began as a back-and-forth match in which the teams traded goals for the first period. UAH got on the scoreboard first when Ross beat Gartner just 3:25 into the game.
The Elis responded less than two minutes later on a patient and composed play by Nate Jackson, who snapped the puck through traffic over Scott Munroe’s glove and into the top right corner of the Charger net. The goal was one of two that the Elis recorded in the first period with a power play lineup that generally looked promising.
The Chargers wasted little time — 11 seconds, to be precise — regaining the lead when Ross won a faceoff in the Yale zone and directed it back to defenseman Mike Salekin. Salekin’s slapshot rose up and past Gartner to give the Chargers a 2-1 advantage.
With the Bulldogs back on the power play with six minutes to go in the period, Jackson took a shot from the slot that was followed by rookie Brett Yaworski, who scored his first collegiate goal in the opening game.
Yaworski’s impressive debut was short-lived, however, as three minutes later he picked up a 5-minute penalty for checking from behind and a subsequent game misconduct.
The Elis managed to kill off that penalty as well as two others to start the second period. But two seconds after killing off a too-many-men penalty, the Elis gave up a goal to UAH’s Brett McConnachie to fall behind once more, 3-2, with 10 minutes to play in the second period.
The remainder of the period proved tough for the Bulldogs. The Charger’s Bruce Mulherin scored just 20 seconds into a power play resulting from a tripping penalty on Yale’s Jean-Francois Boucher, giving UAH a 4-2 advantage. And with 2:04 to play in the period, Matt Craig was called for the Bulldogs’ second checking-from-behind game misconduct, giving UAH another five-minute extra man session.
The Chargers responded with a score from Craig Bushey, who netted the puck with a short tip near the crease. Ross and Mulherin assisted on the play that gave the Chargers a 5-2 margin they would not relinquish. UAH goaltender Scott Munroe was solid in net, earning 25 saves overall and not allowing the Bulldogs to convert any of their 10 chances in the third period.
“Our guys played very hard-we had to play hard to beat that team,” said Doug Ross. “We capitalized on our power plays and had good goaltending by Scott Munroe.”
Taylor opted to replace Gartner, who finished with 27 saves, with senior goaltender Pete Cohen for the third period, and the netminder responded with eight saves and no goals allowed in 20 minutes played. But the Elis were unable to muster any sustained offensive threats in the final stanza, and fell to their visitors in the first-ever game between the two teams.
“We played pretty good in the third period, and I was pleased with Pete,” Taylor said. “I’m disappointed we couldn’t muster a little more offense.”
In the other locker room, the Chargers were happy to have given the Bulldogs a good game.
“We try to get our name out there,” said Jared Ross, who was the CHA’s co-Player of the Year last season. “We stayed calm and tried to play good defensive hockey and keep things simple.”
The Bulldogs host St. Cloud State tomorrow night at Ingalls Rink, while the Chargers travel to Princeton to play their sixth game all-time against an Ivy League opponent. Both games are 7:00 p.m. starts.